Chelsea, NYC, August 2012 – February 2013


We were asked to design an addition to a single-story gallery building. In order to keep the ground floor column free and not to obstruct the existing skylights we proposed a free-floating gallery situated over one-third of the site’s roof. The new building would be suspended by the two party walls from the east and the west and provide a private viewing gallery and additional office space.

Visitors ascend an open staircase through the existing office space on the ground level to reach the first landing. From there, they have a birds-eye view of the exhibition space below. Continuing upwards through a glass enclosed staircase the visitors emerge onto the existing roof, which can be used as a partially covered outdoor sculpture garden that can host receptions. Looking up one sees the exposed underside of our additional structure, or the "fifth façade," providing a surface for long-term art installations or frescos. Through the belly of this new building guests enter the free-floating gallery space. The 30x30' gallery has large northern skylight for exhibitions and events, a directors office with a cantilevering window towards the High Line, and a kitchenette with a panoramic view of three monumental buildings in the Chelsea skyline. There is also a handicap accessible bathroom and elevator for both the visitors and art transportation.

The faceted geometry of the facade and roof is made of brushed marine aluminum; its folds express the interior program of the addition. The roof over the main space is an up and outward projecting pyramid while the smaller rooms are covered by the same geometric form projecting in and downward. Both pyramids are truncated with a skylight in its center. All of the proportions of the interior and exterior abide by the golden ratio. The free floating gallery is precisely tailored to the needs of the gallery, and its relationship to its unique site situated between two taller neighboring buildings.


Project team: Zach Cohen, Emil Froege, Madeline Hollander

Engineers: Knippers Helbig Inc.: Hauke Jungjohann, Tom Reiner, Guillaume Evain

Architect of record: Jam Consultants Inc.

Materials: Steel, marine aluminum, plywood, glass, paint, drywall



Floating Gallery