Out of the Box

David Zwirner taps Renzo Piano to design new $50 million Chelsea gallery

Architecture East
David Zwirner taps Renzo Piano to design new $50 million Chelsea gallery. Left: David Zwirner (Dirk Eusterbrock, via Wikimedia Commons). Right: Renzo Piano (Courtesy California Academy of the Sciences)

Art dealer David Zwirner has announced plans for a new, five-story, $50 million gallery to be designed by Renzo Piano. The gallery will rise on a corner lot at 540 West 21st Street that is currently under demolition. The developer is Casco Development, and the gallery will be linked to a 20-story residential tower but stand as a separate structure.

The gallery building will be constructed close to Zwirner’s current galleries in Chelsea, which includes one on West 19th Street and one on West 20th Street. Zwirner also owns a gallery on the Upper East Side, and is set to expand in Asia, with a gallery opening in Hong Kong on January 25th. Including the West 21st Street gallery, this would bring the total number of his galleries to seven worldwide. Zwirner indicated that after the opening of his new gallery, he would probably close the gallery space on 19th Street, which he rents.

As Zwirner told The New York Times, Piano is “one of my great heroes.” Zwirner, who previously worked with Annabel Selldorf on his current galleries, also said that Piano was the developer’s choice. While Piano is well known for his museum projects, this will be the architect’s first commercial gallery.

Zwirner is one of the art world’s most successful dealers. This five-story building, with three floors dedicated to gallery space, would serve as a kind of calling card and headquarters for his art empire.

While the design process is in the early stages, Piano told the Times that his design would emphasize “a visual psychological connection between the building and the street,” as in his design at the Whitney Museum of Art.

The news comes as Zwirner prepares for a 25-year anniversary exhibition, opening this weekend on January 13th. The new gallery is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020, with groundbreaking expected sometime this spring.

Related Stories