Sotheby’s today unveiled images of its reimagined New York headquarters, which will open to the public on May 3. Designed by OMA New York, the new space represents a renovation of the auction house’s lower four floors within a 10-story building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Though Sotheby’s had looked into relocating, according to a spokesperson for the company, after a long period of study it opted to reconfigure its existing building. While the upper floors remain as offices, the first four floors are now devoted almost entirely to exhibition space—expanding from 67,000 square feet to over 90,000 square feet. Two flexible auction spaces are included there, but the main auction room will remain on the 7th floor. A restaurant on the top floor will give way to a new Sant Ambroeus Coffee Bar on the ground floor, joining Sotheby’s retail Wine store to complete the lobby experience.
“The new headquarters is designed for openness and discovery,” says OMA New York director Shohei Shigematsu. “All public facing programs are shifted to lower levels, unlocking the public potential of the building.” A total of 40 galleries are organized as connected clusters around a central escalator so that separate clusters can be closed for artwork installation while others remain open, enabling constant exhibitions and turnover. They display a range of work from different scales of art to luxury goods and vary in size from 350 square feet to 4,100 square feet. The galleries include white cube, enfilade, corridor, cascade, octagonal, and L-shaped, finished in a variety of materials and featuring varying daylight conditions. Three double-height galleries for large works are over 20 feet tall. Existing concrete columns and steel beams are now exposed, the columns stripped to reveal the aggregate.
According to Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith, “Our ambition was to completely reimagine the client experience in our building, from arrival into our lobby, and the path taken to view an exhibition and participate in an auction, through to collecting new purchases.”