nARCHITECTS’ design of a new 6,000sf arts education and research space in Manhattan’s Chelsea for the Joan Mitchell Foundation celebrates the legacy of American artist Joan Mitchell and "expands her vision to support the aspirations and development of diverse contemporary artists." The Foundation works "...to broaden the recognition of artists and their essential contributions to communities and society."
The renovation occupies the second floor of a former New York Public Library for the blind – a paradoxical history for an organization dedicated to the visual arts. A central “Active Void” is equipped with four pairs of rotating wall panels, allowing the Foundation to flexibly reconfigure the space for a variety of needs, ranging from a gallery, to an auditorium for 80 people, to smaller teaching spaces, or an open loft-like space, among others. Inspired by the Picture Gallery in the historic Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, the four pairs of rotating wall panels are located at four columns exposed by the architects in the “Active Void” space at the heart of the project. Framed in aluminum, and pivoting on aluminum posts secured to the slabs above and below, the eight rotating panels provide a total of over 1,000sf of wall space in a relatively small area. The various spatial configurations that these make possible allow the foundation to maximize the use of their space and accommodate a lively educational and programming schedule.
A series of support programs including two art classrooms, a digital lab, Catalogue Raisonné, offices and storage occupy a packed perimeter zone beyond a wood and glass liner wall. The custom wood liner panels feature integrated LED lighting at all entrances and doors to perimeter rooms, incorporated within a custom curved and recessed wooden reflector.