Diamond in the rough

Ai Weiwei to design new exhibition space in Beverly Hills

Architecture West
A view of Courtyard 104, part of an art village in Beijing where Ai Weiwei's studio is located, designed by Ai himself. Photo: © Gaia Cambiaggi
A view of Courtyard 104, part of an art village in Beijing where Ai Weiwei's studio is located, designed by Ai himself. Photo: © Gaia Cambiaggi

United Talent Agency (UTA) will be moving their Los Angeles art space from Boyle Heights to a former warehouse in Beverly Hills this summer with an architectural overhaul designed by their own client, renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

UTA opened their first art space in 2016 after founding a fine arts division to represent high-profile artists in 2015. While getting some positive press from art world critics, the space, along with a number of other L.A. galleries, received flack and community pushback for contributing to gentrification in the Eastside. Perhaps it is then fitting that UTA Artist Space will be relocating to Beverly Hills, taking over a 4,000-square-foot former diamond-tooling facility. Ai’s yet-to-be-released design is inspired in part by the architectural similarities of the concrete Los Angeles warehouse to his own Beijing studio.

This is hardly Ai’s first foray into architecture. The artist has collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron on more than one occasion, including on major commissions like the Beijing National Stadium (commonly referred to as the “bird’s nest”) and the firm’s 2012 Serpentine pavilion. Ai has also collaborated with other firms on architectural projects and, since 2003, has run his own architecture firm FAKE Design.  

While Ai himself will exhibit a series of new marble works at the new UTA Artist Space this October, the gallery will open in July with a color field-focused show entitled One Shot featuring the work of Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Sam Gilliam, and Jules Olitski, among others.

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