OMA has completed its redesign of sotheby’s new york headquarters. designed by shohei shigematsu of OMA, the building now features vast new exhibition galleries that address the complex needs of sotheby’s as the world’s premier commercial space for viewing and acquiring a diverse collection of fine art, precious objects, luxury goods and more. comprising 40 galleries of varying sizes spread across four entirely transformed floors, the new space seeks to rival major museums around the world in terms of scope, scale, quality, and flexibility.

 

designboom attended the opening of the newly expanded galleries, where shohei shigematsu and members of the sotheby’s team gave a guided tour of the transformed headquarters.

OMA's shohei shigematsu redesigns sotheby's new york headquarters
all images by brett beyer

 

 

after sotheby’s decided to remain in its upper east side headquarters, the company tasked OMA’s new york office with the redesign of the existing structure. the brief called for a flexible building that presents itself more openly to the public. ‘the project was all about conceiving a variety of places that respond to the diversity of their activity — it is no longer just an auction house, it’s a multifaceted art entity,’ said shohei shigematsu at the opening event.

OMA's shohei shigematsu redesigns sotheby's new york headquarters
walnut panels and doors are a nod to the traditional woodwork found at sotheby’s london

 

 

‘there are 40 galleries and 20 different gallery types — different sizes with different materialities,’ continues shigematsu, partner at OMA and the director of the firm’s new york office. ‘our aim was to give flexibility through diversity, which doesn’t really exist in the museum or gallery world — it is normally about flexibility through genericity.’ a range of display areas — white cube, double height, enfilade, corridor, cascade, octagonal, and L-shaped — can be used individually or as clusters to accommodate various works and programming.

OMA's shohei shigematsu redesigns sotheby's new york headquarters
an enfilade gallery presents a sequence of exhibition 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,’ the japanese architect explains. ‘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 level of the first floor is raised, with a new double-height gallery to create a seamless connection between the street and exhibition. this gallery immediately connects to the second floor, through interior windows that look from the second floor down to the first floor space, providing visitors with a unique vantage point.

OMA's shohei shigematsu redesigns sotheby's new york headquarters
an octagonal gallery features a concrete column at its center

 

 

entry into gallery clusters is defined at their thresholds with custom stained walnut panels and doors, a nod to the traditional woodwork found at sotheby’s london. elsewhere, the concrete columns of the former cigar factory have been exposed, acknowledging the building’s industrial past. ‘in the beginning we were trying to hide the columns, but we were actually able to use them to add character and expose the site’s history,’ says shigematsu. the inaugural marquee may exhibitions of impressionist & modern and contemporary art will be on view and accessible to the public until may 14, 2019.

OMA's shohei shigematsu redesigns sotheby's new york headquarters
the exposed columns acknowledge the building’s industrial past

OMA's shohei shigematsu redesigns sotheby's new york headquarters
cavernous double-height spaces allow for large scale pieces

OMA's shohei shigematsu redesigns sotheby's new york headquarters
carefully positioned openings offer views of the external cityscape

OMA's shohei shigematsu redesigns sotheby's new york headquarters
the reception area has been redesigned to feel more welcoming

 

 

project info:

 

name: sotheby’s new york headquarters
project: renovation of sotheby’s new york
client: sotheby’s
status: expected completion may 2019; commissioned january 2017
site: 1334 york avenue, new york, NY USA
program: 92,753 sf (8,617 sqm) gallery, retail and client spaces

 

lead design architect: OMA
partner-in-charge: shohei shigematsu
associate-in-charge: christy cheng
project architect: jina kim
team: caroline corbett, vincent parlatore, anahita tabrizi, natasha trice, jesse catalano
concept design –
project architect: caroline corbett
team: jina kim, vincent parlatore, timothy ho, jesse catalano
executive architect: beyer blinder belle architects & planners LLP
signage and wayfinding: 2×4
lighting: tillotson design associates
MEP: cosentini associates
structure: robert silman associates structural engineers, DPC
acoustics: cerami & associates, inc
building envelope: heintges & associates
contractor: structuretone
client rep: gardiner & theobald
photography: brett beyer