Gladstone Gallery 21st Street / Selldorf Architects

© Nikolas Koenig

Located in Chelsea between 10th and 11th Avenues and situated between two other prominent galleries, this building is a secondary exhibition space for the Gladstone Gallery and was designed to house large installations of sculpture. Respecting the area’s industrial warehouse buildings, the façade is constructed of dark grey hand-cut brick of unusual proportions, laid with filled joints to underscore the monumental appearance. The façade features a large opening on the ground floor and ribbon windows on the upper levels.

Architect: Selldorf Architects
Location: 21st Street, , New York, USA
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Nikolas Koenig

© Nikolas Koenig

Large roof trusses are the only remnants of the sound studio that was formerly on the site. The main exhibition area is a dramatic, 50 x 50-foot column-free space with 22-foot ceilings. A large, single-slope industrial skylight, glazed with sandblasted wire glass, admits abundant daylight. The ground floor also incorporates a receiving/storage space as well as a reception area and a director’s office. The second floor is dedicated to a smaller exhibition space and private showroom, while the third floor houses offices and another private sky-lit showroom. A large freight elevator and a tall stair tower connecting the floors are located on the west side of the building. The electrical lighting, materials and details are simple and as subtle as possible so as not to detract attention from the art.

© Nikolas Koenig
© Nikolas Koenig

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Cite: "Gladstone Gallery 21st Street / Selldorf Architects" 14 Jun 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • Al

    I understand the laconic idea of facade, it’s pure minimalistic expression. But still… somehow it looks… a bit depressing. Well, maybe I’m wrong?

    • Ariel Bizzotto

      I agree. It might change with a detail of colour, only an artistic gesture…a door or maybe the columns behind de windows.

    • orangenyc

      i walked by it the other day. it looks great in context.

  • Jankis

    reminded me one drawing: “Hands resist him”

  • Adam Waltering

    I think it looks like a pixelated gorilla face. I like the facade.

  • Scott Lagstrom

    agreed AI. it is a nice expression, however the openings don’t seem inviting to pull you in. Its colder image reminds me of Bryan McKay Lyon’s office in Nova Scotia. However, his scheme (CMU construction)maintains its heaviness but is more layered and helps to pull people from the street into the space. Even a small amount of landscaping would help.

  • Taylor Metcalf

    I was more impressed with the form after reading that it was constructed from abnormally proportioned blocks.

    • Thomas Schneider

      I agree this is a very interesting aspect, I am curious if that element of the abnormally proportioned blocks held such a prominent position in the hierarchy of architectural elements that it actually dictated where the openings were to be placed?

  • Orb

    Yes i agree with scott. This building lacks a feeling if arrival. The entrance lacks the emphasis needed to draw people into the gallery and something as simple as a different color scheme for the entrance could have made a better impression.

  • Tiffany Liu

    Housing what seems like the works of Anish Kipoor, who’s work is also minimalistic but intriguing, the facade is a far cry from. The materiality may read into the neighborhood, but the ribbon windows are another story. It may be overlooked because of how differently the facade looks from the other galleries in the Chelsea neighborhood.

  • Sofia B

    I think the facade has a very nice texture and color and I really like minimalist architecture in general. I appreciate the simplicity of the design inside and out, even more so for showing art. But I agree with Tiffany, the ribbon windows do not fit into the neighborhood, or into the facade. There are just too many variations in fenestration for a small facade trying to be so minimalist.

  • Taylor Metcalf

    Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean using only one type of window though. When I see the facade, I see different programs behind each window that require a specific type and amount of lighting.

  • Taylor Metcalf

    Back to the first discussion, wouldn’t an artistic expression of color defeat the purpose of the minimalistic expression?

  • Brian Pagnotta

    I agree with Taylor that the openings and fenestration on the facade are meant to reflect the functions within. However, there lacks a sense of arrival in the entry, despite my interest in the minimalist design. There are many easy ways to resolve this problem, something as simple as small billboard text on the door would help.

  • kgNewYork

    I believe my previous comment failed to submit. That being the case, I’ll be brief. I love this building. I think it’s in a very interesting place in the city and certainly has its niche. I do, however, agree with Brian that it lacks a certain energy. While this building reminds me of the architectural ideas of the New Museum, also in New York, I think something subtle such as the small billboard text that Brian suggested for the entryway would get the attention of more people and garner more patrons to the gallery. Although it is of minimalist construction, buildings of this style should have that one thing more, especially if they are art galleries. Brian’s idea seems to fit the concept of a modest addition to the entryway to give it a “sense of arrival.” I will say, though, that something small is all that should be done, so not to damage the integrity of the rest of the facade, which I find quite incredibly intriguing.