Longhouse Projects is a new commercial art gallery in lower Manhattan at 285 Spring Street. Our client, a gallery owner and art collector from Tokyo, wanted to establish a presence in New York City in order to showcase a wider array of contemporary Japanese artists to a larger audience, and to expand his curatorial scope to include other artists from around the world. We were employed not only to design the gallery, but to also find the space. After a year-long search, we chose a four thousand square foot space that met our client's square footage, column spacing, and ceiling height requirements and that was at street level, in order to help the gallery gain exposure in its new city. The design of the gallery is organized into three zones: the entry and offices at the front, two thousand square feet of exhibition space, and back-of-house spaces that include a workroom and art storage area, pantry, and restroom.
The client wanted to create a gallery that was a place of respite, in which a visitor was encouraged to linger. Instead of making the reception desk the focus of the entry, we created a low wall covered in oxidized maple planks with a twelve foot long waxed aluminum shelf, which serves as a place to read about the art. On the office side of the wall, carpeting and felt fabric panels help to create a comfortable work environment. In contrast to the exhibition space, this space retains more of the industrial qualities of the building, an early 20th century printing press building. Floors are concrete and the ceiling is left exposed, along with the electrical conduit, sprinklers, ductwork, and lighting. Responding to the client's desires to create an experience for the visitor that is visually uncluttered, we designed the galleries as white boxes with Douglas Fir wood floors, where lighting and HVAC diffusers are detailed to disappear.
Longhouse Projects is part of a growing number of galleries and arts-related businesses in Hudson Square, a neighborhood that was recently approved for residential rezoning. The change will accelerate the growth in the neighborhood that has occurred over the last several years as it has evolved from light manufacturing businesses and nightclubs to a 24 hour work-live neighborhood. Currently, there are more creative businesses, such as fashion companies, architecture firms, and galleries choosing to locate in the neighborhood. As a space whose mission is to bring lesser-known artists into a broader discussion with contemporary artists from around the world, the ground-floor space of Longhouse Projects hopes to act as a place for intellectual and artistic interchange. As such, we hope and expect Longhouse Projects to be an open public space that contributes to the increasing cultural vibrancy of the neighborhood. As the public has gotten to know the gallery space, it has also been chosen as a venue for a fashion show, reading, and film set for a television series.