OMA to redesign Sotheby’s New York auction house

A major renovation and expansion of the auction house’s  galleries – complete with coffee and wine shops – aims to “rival major museums” when it opens this summer.

The redesign by OMA’s New York director Shohei Shigematsu sees the creation of 40 galleries of vastly varying scale from 32-380 square metres for the New York headquarters of Sotheby's auction house. 

When the renovation completes in time for an auction of Impressionist and Modern artwork on 3 May 2019, the building will have been adapted to offer spaces for a variety of formats: double-height for large-scale work, linear galleries for the display of entire collections and small-scale settings for design and artworks on a domestic scale. All in all, gallery space will be increased by almost a third, to 8360 square metres. 

As well as public exhibition spaced, Shigematsu, who spoke to us about his role as a 2019 Lexus Design Award mentor earlier this month, has designed nine private sales galleries and two auction spaces. There will also be a new double-height foyer complete with digital signage, and a coffee to sit alongside its exisiting wine store. 

OMA designed bespoke furniture for some of the spaces, which are to be finished in a variety of styles, with wood, concrete, carpetted or resin floors, natural or artificial lighting, and exposed or enclosed ceilings. 

Wood-pannelled opening will link some gallery spaces with flecked grey flooring to match the aggregate-speckled columns that will be exposed in the renovation works. 

“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,” he says of the project.

“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.” 

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