Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Gagosian Gallery

Beverly Hills, California

1994 - 1995

In a city where the automobile is king and architectural “differences” must be writ large in order to attract the attention of drivers and passengers moving at 60 mph, the Gagosian Gallery projects an insistent but subtle authority. Its high, white wing and the sharply articulated play of layered transparencies and shadows draw attention to a work that is otherwise a fairly minimal transformation of a preexisting storefront. The street elevation is composed of an overhead- glazed door and an expanse of clear and frosted glass held in place by a lattice of aluminum mullions and white sun-screening blades. Just visible above the roofline is a gently pitched monitor light with an airfoil profile carefully designed to admit indirect natural light into the interior. The glazed aluminum door can be raised from sidewalk level so artworks can be seen from the street during al fresco events or openings. This provision, dependent upon the California climate, amounts to an arresting, provocative gesture, particularly gallery-goers who are more accustomed to the hermetic formal character of the enclosed private gallery.

Visitors entering the gallery first see a blank, full-height wall that opens to the main volume when least expected. The main gallery is a soaring space top-lit by clerestory windows at the north and south ends of a bowed ceiling. Sunlight is beautifully diffused through this surface and varies over the course of the day, from warm on one side to cold on the other. Visitors’ circulation is controlled from an elliptical reception desk that also monitors access to the secluded upper-floor viewing room and the adjacent office space. A second, smaller gallery on the ground floor also receives light through the roof. Throughout the gallery track lighting partially suspended from a double-cruciform, steel-stanchioned grid beneath the main monitor light complements the natural light.

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