A Record Store in Seattle’s Storefront for Architecture

Kelly Chan Kelly Chan

Throughout the years, New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture has been a critical hub for the art and architecture scene. However, its often hermetically sealed exterior of concrete panels can easily escape the notice of even an astute flâneur. While Storefront aspires to project a rigorously architectural exterior, [storefront], an experimental rotating gallery space in Seattle, Washington, disguises its architectural core with an accessible brick-and-mortar façade.

Instead of plunging unknowing visitors into the cold waters of pure, unadulterated architecture, whatever that may be, [storefront] gives barely any indication of its architectural origins aside from the lettering on the window designating its creators, Olson Kundig Architects. The project is described as “an experimental work place for Olson Kundig Architects’ community collaborations, pro-bono design work, philanthropic and volunteer work, and for design research and the development of design ideas.”

Not only does the glass storefront blend seamlessly into the Seattle streetscape, but its contents also confuse the exact function and capacity of the space. For instance, [storefront] is currently occupied by an installation called Record Store, which encourages visitors to engage in a fast disappearing cultural phenomenon: the participatory, object-based interaction of perusing a record store. Presented by the Seattle Art Museum, Record Store temporarily revives an analog music form and its physical space as a means to explore new ways to share narratives and perspectives. While none of the vinyl is available for purchase, visitors can freely browse and listen and become familiar with a lost art. The traveling exhibition will occupy [storefront] through January, bringing a string of organized listening parties along with it.

Though the records and parties will come and go, [storefront] is here to stay. Record Store is but one of numerous interactive installations that will grace 406 Occidental Avenue, a space that has already seen its share of performances, design workshops, and artists’ residencies. In the footprint of a commercial space, [storefront] emerges as a space where architecture is packaged for any and all consumers willing and open to explore its many meanings.

To learn more about the programming at [storefront], visit the Facebook page. For more on the work of Olson Kundig Architects, check out an upcoming lecture at the New York Public Library by Tom Kundig, one of the firm’s partners on January 25th!

[All images courtesy the architects]