Standing just outside the shadows of Zaha Hadid’s futuristic condo building, 520 West 28th Street, and the High Line is the latest addition to New York’s Chelsea district – a newly built fourth gallery space for the art dealer Paul Kasmin. Designed by Markus Dochantschi of studioMDA, a longtime collaborator of Kasmin’s, the new gallery features a column-free exhibition space punctuated by 28 skylights. It’s topped by a rooftop sculpture garden armed with a rotating exhibition programme that is also visible to the High Line’s six million visitors around the year.

As one of the neighbourhood’s few purpose-built gallery spaces, the newest Kasmin Gallery cuts a memorable figure. Cast out of concrete, the building makes a strong first impression with a white concrete façade that has been given the texture of brushed oak, and frames the expansive glass storefront. Inside, the 280 sq m space is capped off by a ceiling composed of 28 trapezoidal coffers, each individually installed with a skylight to ensure a flood of natural daylight into the gallery.

Not only does this waffle structure bring an innate rhythm to the space, it also provides flexibility for the exhibition area to be divided and partitioned as each show sees fit. Almost 7m-high walls also ensure that the gallery’s large-scale works are given the room that they need, which the opening exhibition of Walton Ford paintings make full use of.

The opening show focuses on new painting work by Walton Ford. Photography: Diego Flores

The gallery’s rooftop fulfills a similar goal – to provide the best backdrop for Kasmin’s growing sculpture collection. The garden brings an additional 465 sq m of outdoor exhibition space to the table, with the embedded skylights providing illumination in the evening.

Located what seems to be just an arms’ length from the High Line, the gallery’s sculpture garden is an unexpected feature that continues the natural visual plane when viewed from the public space. It boasts a gently undulating topography, designed by Future Green, and has been filled with trees and foliage that will change with the seasons. Individual platforms have also been installed to optimise the sculptures’ stability and visibility. Three bronze sculptures by Joel Shapiro inaugurate the new garden.

‘The new gallery is the result of many years of discussion,’ says Kasmin. ‘Nearly all galleries in Chelsea are adapted industrial spaces so the real ambition has been to create a purpose-built exhibition space with the sole intention of showing art at its very best and taking shows outside [into the garden] off the gallery walls.’ §