Sotheby’s has announced an expansive OMA-led renovation of its Manhattan headquarters, with an equally ambitious target opening date of May 3. The reorganization of the auction house’s Upper East Side building will expand the amount of exhibition space from 67,000 square feet to 90,000 and add 40 new galleries.
Twenty gallery typologies will be spread across the four floors of 1334 York Avenue, including double-height spaces, private viewing rooms, octagonal galleries, corridors, and a space for small objects (Sotheby’s also sells luxury goods alongside art). The auction house is also taking a cue from its London and Paris locations and will be modernizing its entrances with stained walnut woodwork.
The project is being handled by OMA’s New York office and led by partner Shohei Shigematsu. Of the renovation, Shigematsu said: “We wanted to embody Sotheby’s ambition to reinvigorate and enhance the client experience by introducing high flexibility through reorganization of programs and diversification of gallery spaces. The new headquarters is designed for openness and discovery—all public facing programs are shifted to lower levels, unlocking the public potential of the building. A taxonomy of galleries can be used separately or as clusters to allow curatorial freedom, driven by business model shifts and expanding repertoire of programming.”
The renovation aims not only to consolidate elements of the building’s programming but to diversify the gallery types and create more public-facing spaces. By using gallery “clusters,” the larger spaces can remain open even as collections are rotated out, which the auction house estimates will happen every three-or-four days. A coffee bar will also be coming to the building’s lobby.
Sotheby’s has organized an auction of modern, contemporary, and Impressionist work to coincide with the May reopening, including a contentious Mark Rothko painting from SFMoMA. Beyer Blinder Belle is serving as the project’s executive architect.