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.
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The fallout over the allegations facing Richard Meier in the wake of the bombshell report released yesterday has been swift, as several institutions have announced that they would be severing ties with Meier as a result. Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning has declared that it would decline Meier’s recent endowment and will be reviewing all of the architect’s past donations, while Sotheby’s has canceled its New York show of Meier’s artwork. Meier has long been a fixture at Cornell, his alma mater, having completed Weill Hall for the school in 2008 and sponsored the Ana Meier Graduate Scholarship, meant to encourage women in architecture. As of yesterday, Kent Kleinman, Dean of the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell, released a statement explaining that the school would be declining Meier’s gift to name the chair of the architecture department. Furthermore, Kleinman announced that Cornell would be canceling an event planned to celebrate the gift and that the school “will swiftly explore what additional actions are appropriate with regard to endowments for professorships and scholarships previously donated to Cornell.” Sotheby’s has followed suit and has canceled a solo show of Meier’s artwork produced from 2014 through 2017 at their S|2 gallery in New York City. While the page has been scrubbed from the Sotheby’s website at the time of writing, the exhibition had been scheduled to run until the end of March and featured a collection of 36 collages, silkscreens, and encaustic paintings. As first reported in ARTnews, the decision to scrap the show was made “in consultation with the Meier family.” AN will update this article as further information becomes available.
Late British musician David Bowie's substantial collection of Memphis furniture is to be auctioned off. Before his death on January 10 this year, Bowie was a big fan of the Memphis design group and Italian designer Ettore Sottsass's work. During his lifetime, Bowie had accumulated more than 100 items of numerous sizes. Notable parts of his collection include Ettorre Sottsass's Carlton bookcase, the ‘Valentine’ Portable Typewriter, Martin Bedin's Super Lamp, and Peter Shire's Bel Air armchair. The items will be sold at Sotheby's auction house in London on November 11 this year. Now Sotheby's third auction since Bowie's death, items are expected to fetch between $70 and $8,600 (the Carlton Bookcase being the item in question touted for that price). “The works produced by the historical avant-garde design collaborative Memphis Milano, led by Ettore Sottsass, could not have found a more receptive and tuned-in audience than David Bowie,” said Cécile Verdier, co-head of 20th-century design at Sotheby’s. “This is design with no limits and no boundaries,” she continued. “When you look at a piece of Memphis design, you see their unconventionality, the kaleidoscope of forms and patterns, the vibrant contrasting colours that really shouldn’t work but really do.”
Sotheby's Wants to Open... a Farmer's Market: In an unlikely move, the auction house is proposing a youth-run farmer's market in front of its Upper East Side headquarters, after a sale of heirloom produce raised $100,000 for non-profits last year. The plan went before the community board this week, and DNAinfo reports: "Some were supportive of the small-scale event that would bring fresh food to the area... Others were more skeptical and wanted to know where the kids manning the stand on between East 71st and 72nd streets — on Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27 — and the produce would be coming from." Camping in New York... City: The National Parks Service announced plans to turn Brooklyn's Floyd Bennet Field, a decommissioned airport once used by Amelia Earhart, into the country's largest urban campground. Ninety camp sites have been planned for the next two years, with as many as 600 in the future. Floyd Bennet Field already has occasional summer camping nights, which the NYTimes Frugal Traveler tried out for $20 last year. How IBM Re-Defined Corporate Architecture: Big Blue celebrates its 100th anniversary this week, and Network World takes a look at the company's greatest architectural gems. The company hired some of the biggest names, including Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Paul Rand, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, to design its modernist offices and later suburban corporate campuses. Martin Moeller at the National Building Museum calls IBM the "vanguard" in using buildings to express corporate identity. America's Dirtiest Cities: Travel and Leisure just released its list of worst offenders. New Orleans, Philadelphia and Los Angeles top the list. Readers chose the "winners" based on litter, air pollution, and the taste of local tap water, in the magazine's annual America’s Favorite Cities survey.