If you thought that New York's Chelsea district couldn't possibly house another gallery, think again. Coinciding with its 20th anniversary, the contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth unveiled the sixth member of its family this week - brand new digs on West 18th Street in the nucleus of the Manhattan art district.
Measuring over 24,000 sq ft, the immense warehouse space should ring a bell or two for its visitors; it previously housed the legendary Roxy disco and roller rink until its closure in 2007. After a year's worth of rehabilitation and work conducted by Selldorf Architects - who have designed a number of Hauser & Wirth outposts - the space has been transformed into a single, column-free exhibition hall, complete with trussed ceilings. The new incarnation also features a site-specific installation by Martin Creed, 'Work No. 1461', created from colourful rolls of tape, in its entrance.
Selldorf Architects had just one year to work their magic. 'When we first saw the space last year, it was as if The Roxy had just closed up the night before,' say partners Lisa Green and Sara Lopergolo. 'Everything was in tact. There were even pairs of roller skates still right there. '
It took about four months for Selldorf Architects - the practice behind a legion of galleries for the art world's super dealers - to uncover what lay beneath The Roxy's exterior: great industrial beams, original wood ceilings and skylights that all feature in the new Hauser & Wirth space. 'We couldn't see the structure or what we had to work with initially. There were layers upon layers of foam for soundproofing and everything had been painted black.'
Once they had stripped these back, they retained much of the space's original features, simply adding dry walls and proper track lighting. 'We really wanted to respect the existing architectures,' explains Marc Payot, partner and vice-president of Hauser & Wirth, who will now also serve at the new location's director. Upon entry, visitors will be able to spot where the infamous Roxy roller rink once stood, now a swooping semispherical arc on the concrete floor.
The new venue is currently being inaugurated with an impressive retrospective of German father-and-son performance artists Dieter and Björn Roth. Hauser & Wirth has also commissioned one of the signature Roth bars to be installed in an annex of the gallery. The 'Bjorn Roth Bar' will operate, serving refreshments, and remain in situ for the long term.