Sperone Westwater Gallery / Foster + Partners

© Nigel Young

Architects: , Foster + Partners
Location: 257 Bowery, , USA
Co-architects: Adamson Associates
Client: Sperone Westwater
Consultants: Buro Happold, Sciame, Edgett Williams, JAM Consultants Inc.
Project Year: 2008-2010
Photographs: Nigel Young

Nearly 35 years after its conception, Sperone Westwater continues to exhibit the work of prominent artists of diverse nationality and age, who work in various media. The concept for the Gallery is both a response to the dynamic urban character of New York’s Bowery and a desire to rethink the way in which the public engages with art in the setting of a gallery. The nine-storey building is part of a bold initiative to reinvigorate the neighborhood and the design will pioneer an innovative approach to vertical movement within a gallery building.

© Nigel Young

The centerpiece of the concept is a 12 x 20-foot moving room that connects the five floors where works of art will be displayed. The room allows visitors to move gradually between levels and will be a prominent feature along the Bowery, visible from the street, its gentle pace contrasting with the fast-moving traffic. At any given floor, the exhibition space can be extended by parking the moving room as required, by the use of an additional elevator and stairs which provide alternative access.

site plan © Foster + Partners
section © Foster + Partners

The design incorporates a mezzanine floor and double-height display area at street level, a sculpture terrace towards the park and a private viewing gallery at the top of the public floors. A setback marks the location of the offices. Works of art will be stored primarily in the basement, while a library – that also functions as an events space – is located at the top of the building below the mechanical floor. The CNC milled glass facade that houses the moving room act as a buffer zone, protecting the building from extreme temperatures and acoustically insulating the galleries.

© Nigel Young
© Nigel Young

‘The concept for Sperone Westwater represents both a response to the Bowery’s dynamic urban character and a desire to rethink the way in which we engage with art in the setting of a gallery. The moving gallery animates the exterior of the building and creates a bold vertical element within. Like a kinetic addition to the street, it is a lively symbol of the area’s reinvention and a daring response to the Sperone Westwater’s major program. I hope that artists will be inspired by the gallery’s new spatial and structural possibilities.’

You can see this project during construction at our “In Progress” section.

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Sperone Westwater Gallery / Foster + Partners" 22 Sep 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 19 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=78827>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    terribly boring… when I moved to new york a month ago I was excited to see this and Sanaa’s art museum on the bowery. This project fails to create dynamic and interesting spaces = BANAL

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Well… interior pics and section finally arrived! Very low key spaces that probably serve the art well, although the moving room (err, elevator) provides a bit of spice. A shame that you can’t see through the glazing in the day. Really no natural light in the galleries, for better or worse… umm..

    Very modest project, especially for a Foster design!

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    Is there any light passing through to the galleries when the movable room (elevator) doors are closed? That seems like a questionable trade if not. The five story light well only feeds light to the first floor and the extendable height lobby. Seems that you would want light in the gallery spaces but it could be otherwise.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Was there last week,

    Compared to its close relative (speaking of what they both contain)the New Museum is much more open to the ‘hood, Foster´s design doesn’t add anything special to Bowery street, in fact, its opaque facade and dark colors can even resemble an old 70′s building, standing there for years, no one noticing it..

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Fresh!! The industrial warehouse aesthetic is mad, Very New York, Gotham City Style,,

    ^^ As Ice Cube says “F@*k all the critics in New York”

  6. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    Some of these comments represent what’s wrong with architecture. It’s a bad building because it can’t “outdo” the Sanaa building or is not as “impressive”? If you knew New York, you’d realize what he’s doing is completely influenced by the zoning laws in that neighborhood, with the stepback. The large red elevator is reminiscent of the humongous freight elevators in every building around this neighborhood and throughout all New York. The way he plays with the location of it on the inside of the facade, with red paint and light, I absolutely love it. Great subtle project by Foster, which respects the neighborhood. There are things about the Sanaa building I like, but at the end of the day, it’s a big chunk bulls*** thrown into a neighborhood that it’ll never make sense in. In that sense, Foster’s project “is more impressive” than the New Museum.

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