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New York, NY, United States, 1992-1993

PROGRAM: facade renovation for art & architecture gallery
CLIENT: Shirin Neshat Storefront for Art and Architecture / Kyong Park Storefront for Art and Architecture
STATUS: completed

Storefront for Art and Architecture is a nonprofit organization committed to the advancement of innovative positions in architecture, art and design. The program of exhibitions, artists talks, film screenings, conferences and publications is intended to generate dialogue and collaboration across geographic, ideological and disciplinary boundaries. As a public forum for emerging voices, Storefront explores vital issues in art and architecture with the intent of increasing awareness of and interest in contemporary design.

In 1992, Steven Holl and artist Vito Acconci were commissioned as a collaborative team to renovate the aging facade of the Storefront for Art and Architecture. The Storefront for Art and Architecture is situated on the corner of a block that marks the intersection of three distinct neighborhoods: Chinatown, Little Italy and SOHO. The gallery itself is a limited, narrow wedge with a triangulated exhibition interior, such that the most dominant structure for the Storefront for Art and Architecture is the building's long facade.

Seeking to introduce improbability and to puncture the facade, Acconci and Holl challenged this symbolic border which underlines the exclusivity of the art world, where only those on the inside belong. Using a hybrid material comprised of concrete mixed with recycled fibers, Holl and Acconci inserted a series of hinged panels arranged in a puzzle-like configuration. When the panels are locked in their open position, the facade dissolves and the interior space of the gallery expands out on to the sidewalk. If the function of a facade is to create a division separating the inside from the outside space.
'Working with the artist and designer Vito Acconci, Mr. Holl fashioned a concrete board facade with 10 pivoting panels that curators have used as doors, windows, seating and shelves in endless combinations. (...) Storefront's board last week commissioned a restoration of the facade. The remake will be as faithful to the original as possible (...) Boardmembers ultimately recognized the importance of the current facade to the Storefront's identity as a proponent of innovative art, architecture and design.'
-Fred Bernstein, New York Times
'The façade is defiant and embodies a seemingly impossible enterprise: the risks, struggles, contradictions, possibilities and desires necessary to maintain a platform for experimental work in New York City.'
-Quaderns 232, January, 2002
'The front by Steven Holl with artist Vito Acconci is noticeably different from the traditional shop fronts and art galleries in nearby Soho: its experimental design forges a powerful link between public space, the sidewalk and street, and the private space represented by the narrow inner triangle of the art gallery. Conceived in this way, the façade is both an element of urban cohesion, an extension of the road into the interior, and an expansion of the interior into the street'.
-Abitare 334, November, 1994

– Steven Holl Architects
Steven Holl, Vito Acconci (design architect)
Chris Otterbine (project team)
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