Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

New York School Exhibition

New York, New York

1977

For an exhibition of the work of New York School Painters and sculptors, a vast 42,000-square-foot space had to be designed, constructed, and installed in just eight weeks. The volume of the hall turned out to be an asset, as many of the works were very large – a couple of them over 80 feet long – and the scale of partitions and appropriate viewing conditions accordingly became the major issues. To accommodate the variety of works, an abstract interior “cityscape” was conceived as the working metaphor for the space. Wood-framed gypsum-board partitions were arranged to create two broad “thorough fares” for the large compositions and sculpture. These were cut perpendicularly by four narrow columnar “alleyways” – transversable either actually or visually – and separated by a three-dimensional grid of smaller-scale enclosures. Two cylindrical enclosures at the back of the hall provided special in-the-round viewing space for two pieces of sculpture and served compositionally as the “receptors” of the orthogonal energies.

The whole scheme was predicated on providing a variety of aspects from which to engage the works. Having a sense of being both inside and outside, the viewer was able to rediscover previously seen works from new perspectives, and to take advantage of long axial views, glimpses through windowed planes, and layered spatial relationships. Experientially the installation became an abstract microcosm of the city itself, an appropriate backdrop to the urbanity of the art on display.