The design of the new MODERNISM Gallery seeks to honor both the history of the existing structure and the origins of MODERNISM itself. The new façade of the gallery was inspired by the lithographs of El Lissitzky, one of the first artists to be shown in the revered thirty-year history of the Gallery. A series of steel frames, planes, and lines are sculpted to create a large street front viewing portal and the primary entry into the gallery.
Within, the design creates a highly intentional and complementary dialogue between the original structure of board form concrete walls and wood ceiling members, and the new, crisp, white modern planes that define the walls for displaying art. The program is delineated vertically into a public ground floor for the viewing of art and a more intimate second floor mezzanine for offices and more private meetings with art collectors. The ground floor contains two galleries of opposite character. The first, a two-story skylit gallery that incorporates mobile walls that can be reconfigured as needed depending on the curator’s vision of the respective exhibit. The second gallery is a much more intimate single-story space with sliding walls that reveal hundreds of stored artworks, which can be retrieved and hung at a moment’s notice.
The collective result is intended to create a highly inspirational venue for the viewing of experimental art while pioneering one of San Francisco’s up-and-coming art districts.