It looked like a graduation. On a Saturday afternoon, a crowd of people gathered around a small stage set up on the lawn in front of the Martin van Buren School, a sturdy Colonial Revival building in Kinderhook, New York. But rather than students in caps and gowns, a small parade of people beating out pseudo-African rhythms on hand drums proceeded up onto the stage. Next came a group of writhing dancers in gold masks and neon fur suits, and, finally, duos of performers inside colorful horse costumes. The audience, a mix of locals and a Manhattan art crowd who made the two-hour journey up the Hudson River, applauded the performance, which was organized by Chicago artist Nick Cave. Off to one side, art dealer Jack Shainman was beaming.

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Just under two years ago, Shainman, who has two galleries in Manhattan and owns a farm near Kinderhook, acquired the 30,000-square-foot school to house his inventory and collection, as well as to serve as a large exhibition space. The school district closed the 1929 building in 2011 because of dropping enrollment and eventually sold the property to the gallery for a reported $550,000. Shainman hired Spanish architect Antonio Jiménez Torrecillas to renovate the building—the art dealer has been a longtime fan of Torrecillas's work in the designer’s home city of Granada, Spain—giving him his first large-scale commission in the United States. The performance, along with an exhibition of new work by Cave, marked the debut of The School, as the gallery has dubbed the space, which is currently open to the public by appointment. “I was impressed by the building and the innate power of the place,” says Torrecillas. “The school’s construction is so solid, and it has survived in excellent condition.”

Torrecillas and his firm worked with Carlos Vega, an artist and Shainman’s business partner, to reconfigure the school’s plan, tailoring its interiors to suit the gallery’s roster of artists and the various scales and materials of their work. To host large sculptures and installations, the designers inserted a rectangular 5,000-square-foot gallery with a 24-foot-high ceiling into the heart of the building, carving the space out of the basement and ground floor and reorganizing the school’s warren of rooms around it. From a restored entry—updated with white walls and uplighting above the moulding—visitors move through a series of long, narrow hallways that step down as they wrap in a square shape around the outside of the large gallery. “The building is very Palladian,” says Shainman. “And we tried to keep that symmetry in the new plan.” At the bottom, a low-ceilinged space under the entry provides a moment of compression before opening into the large gallery.

The design required excavating 8 feet below the building and repouring sections of the foundation. In addition, the project added 15 geothermal wells to provide heating and cooling for the school-turned-art space.

On the second floor, to bring a sense of openness and to display larger artworks in what were once small offices and classrooms, the architect removed several interior walls from the brick structure, redistributing their loads with a steel-beam system threaded into the metal roof truss. “The building almost had too many big walls, which is a strange problem for a gallery,” says Shainman. “It’s kind of like having too much closet space in Manhattan.” Some rooms have been converted into white-walled galleries, while others have been left raw, with traces of their former use readable in the stripped walls.

The resulting space feels open, but still looks like a converted school rather than a generic white box. “The existing classrooms and hallways made for perfect showrooms,” says Torrecillas. “For me, the greatest power of the building is the honesty of its original construction.”

Torrecillas kept the existing window configuration—the building is located in a historic district—but used a cleverly simple lighting scheme to calibrate conditions in the galleries. He added shading over the glazing that filters daylight to a warm glow, and in between windows, the architect added pairs of vertical fluorescent tubes that balance out the natural light with their cool color temperature. Translucent scrims, stretched from wall to wall and floor to ceiling about 2 feet in front of the windows, blend the opposing light qualities into a near-neutral color temperature that fluctuates just enough to change throughout the day.

During the opening weekend, the lighting set off a selection of work from artists that Shainman shows, including Cave’s signature, crowd-pleasing Soundsuits and a sampling of his more recent work. The latter consists of engrossing collections of objects, sourced from flea markets and junk stores. Many of the knickknacks are once-common racial caricatures—what Shainman calls “racist Americana.” They embody sinister attitudes that, despite the banishment of this kind of casually racist kitsch, have not disappeared from American culture, and yet the work also affectionately elevates these scorned objects.

Such complex gestures were previously tough to find in Kinderhook, a town of fewer than 10,000 people that is more Mayberry than cultural mecca. But that appears poised to change. The OMA-designed Marina Abramović Institute, a hybrid museum and training camp being built by the celebrity performance artist, is taking shape in neighboring Hudson, New York. Paired with Hudson’s indigenous galleries and proximity to Dia Beacon, Mass MOCA, and other institutions, the area seems ready to become a significant art destination. “When we started working on the building, we never thought that’s how the region would be,” says Shainman. “But now, here we are.”



25 Broad St., Kinderhook LLC (Jack Shainman)



Antonio Jiménez Torrecillas
Acera del Darro 64, 18005 Granada
Tlf.: 34 958263747
Fax: 34 958263717

Operations Manager:

Chris Davison



Caesar Gomez Vida

Chad Lindberg, PE
Taconic Engineering, PDC
P.O. Box 272
Chatam, NY 12037



Carlos Vega and Jack Shainman


General contractor:

Lorne Dawes Construction LTD
6 Catskill View Drive
Kinderhook, NY 12106


Electrical contractor:

Scheriff Electric, Inc.
32 Keil Lane
P.O. Box 153
Stuyvesant Falls, NY 12174


HVAC and Plumbing contractor:

C & E Rothermel, Inc.
21 Rothermel Lane
Kinderhook, NY 12106



Elizabeth Felicella,
Jeremy Lawson



30,000 square feet


Completion date:

May 2014



Structural system

Todd Seimer, S & S Fabrication, Inc.: 1-518-828-2022

Masonry building with cinder block/brick veneer exterior walls
Foundation and footings are cast concrete
Interior walls are load bearing masonry walls
Roof structure is constructed of wood and steel with 1' x 6' T&G sheathing
Floors are open web steel joists with wire lath and concrete and poured concrete with radiant heat

steel, plaster, brick, cinderblock

Exterior cladding

(same as above)


25 year asphalt shingles


Metal frame:
aluminum channel and aluminum frame


1 inch clear insulated tempered units

Safety glass


Wood doors:
solid core birch wood, fire proof, all refinished and refurbished

Special doors (sound control, X-ray, etc.):
17 ft double-concealed doors, fabricated by Todd Seimer at S&S Fabrication Inc.

Concealed doors in perimeter galleries leading to main space:
fabricated by Todd Seimer at S&S Fabrication Inc. 1-518-828-2022


BEST Cylindrical Locks ' 7KC

Schlage 40 Series Maglock Model No. 40TJ
HES Electrical strike

Security devices:
Christopher C. Curtis, Garnet Technology - 1-518-758-1900
Dlink Exterior Cameras
Dlink 322L NVR
Dlink video monitoring station

Christopher C. Curtis, Garnet Technology 1-518-758-1900
Bose Virtually Invisible 191 speakers
Yamaha RX-V775WA AV receiver

Interior finishes

Paints and stains:
Walls: Benjamin Moore Regal Select Super White ' Flat

Benjamin Moore Regal Select Super White ' Pearl

Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec 500 Super White ' Flat

Niche wall:
Benjamin Moore Regal Select Super White - Eggshell

Wall coverings:
walls consist of 3/4 inch Georgia Pacific PTS plywood and 5/8 inch CertainTeed sheetrock

Stair railings:
refinished existing steel stair railing circa 1929: PPG single stage urethane enamel in Olympic White

Stair treads:
Benjamin Moore Super Spec D.T.M. Alkyd Low Lustre Light Blue Grey

Cocoa Mat at main entrance

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
the perimeter galleries are the original maple floor of the gymnasium, hand-carved marble jalis


Office furniture:
All-Steel Office Furniture, All-Steel Equipment Inc., Aurora, Illinois

vintage Alvar Aalto chair circa 1930, TOKEN tea chairs

three french desks fabricated in sheetmetal circa 1935, maker unknown

Nick Scarduzio from Dr. Shade: 1-212-343-9900
Motorized Solar Shades in white with Somfy motor
Manual Solar Shades in white
Sheer Drapery in white
Block-out shades in the Storage rooms


David Konarski: 1.-518-688-0520 ' all Juno fixtures
Juno Conix II LED: T265L35K ' F ' WH
Juno Trac-Master: T257LED ' 35K ' WH

Kathy Waterous: 1-518-453-9554 ' all Philips fixtures
Philips eW Blast Powercore 36 degree (frosted lens) 4,000K in WHITE No. 523-000069-12

These are the lights from HD:

Lithonia 8' T5 4L 54 W HO Mini Strip Light: Model TZR 2 54 T5HO MVOLT 1
Litohnia 4' T5 54 W HO Mini Strip Light: Model ZR 1 54 T5HO MVH
Litohnia 4' T5 2L 54 W HO Compact Strip Light: Model ZR 2 54 T5HO MVOLT GEB10PS

Other lights in the building:
Prulite ' SNAP 8ft: Model S1-1SMHO-08-SAL-TMW-120-SUR-X3-DM
Bartco ' Linear T5 Fluorescent: Model BFL281
Bartco ' Linear T5 Fluorescent: Model BFL281-S

Interior ambient lighting:
85 lamps chandelier by Droog in the entrance, two Arne Jacobsen wall sconces circa 1929


large freight elevator (approx.12ft x8ft) to be installed winter 2015

Accessibility provision:
ramps for lobby and perimeter galleries


Security Plumbing & Heating Supply
475 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206

Duravit Toilet wall-mounted starck 3, white, washdown model
Duravit Geberit Concealed Tank and Carrier for rear discharge wall hung toilet
Duravit Samba Dual Flush Actuator with white finish
Duravit Seat and Cover Starck 3 white, hinges, stainless steel, softclose
Duravit Shower Tray Starck Slimline, 35 3/8 inch X 31 ' inch or 900 X 800 mm, white, rectangle
Kohler Shower Drain w/ Grid Strainer, Brushed Nickel
Duravit Vanity Basin 43CM Starck 3, white, undercounter model w/o tap platform
Kohler Vox Square Vessel
Kohler Clicker Drain with Overflow Grohe wall Lavatory Faucet
Grohe America Atrio 3-H Basin Mixer Wall Mt Trim Set
Grohe Atrio Lev Handles BR Nick (pair)
Grohe 3-hole wall mt
Kohler Verdera slow-close mirror
19867ENO Grohflex Timeless Dual Function Pressure Balance Trim, brushed nickel
Grohe America Grohflex Rough
Grohe trio Tub Spout only, Brushed nickel
Kohler Awaken Hand Shower Brushed nickel
Kohler Stillness Supply Elbow
Kohler Mastershower 72 Hose
Kohler Handshower Slide Bar
Kohler Stillness Slide Bar Trim


Joseph F. Hanson:
Hanson Well Drilling - 1.800.292.7645

Mechanical Installation for Geothermal:
Chuck Rothermal: 1.518.758.9271

This is the information on the mechanics in the Geothermal room:
Mitsubishi Electric City Multi: PQHY-P96THMU-A 8T VRF
Mitsubishi Electric CityMulti: PQHY-P72THMU-A 6T
Grundfos: MLE112CA-2-184-TC-G1
Grundfos: CU-352
TACO PAX_300ASME Expansion tank

This is additional mechanical information for the Geothermal system:
Mitsubishi PKFY-P12NMHU-E 12MBH
Mitsubishi PEFY-P15NMHU ' E 15MBH
Mitsubishi PVFY-P24E00A 24MBH
Mitsubishi PWFY-P36NMU-E-AU
Mitsubishi PFFY-P24NRMU-E 24MBH