David Zwirner to Expand Again With a Massive New $50 Million Gallery in Chelsea

The race to expand continues at breakneck speed.

David Zwirner. Courtesy of David Zwirner.

David Zwirner is getting himself a pricey gift for his gallery’s 25th birthday: a $50 million new space. The sprawling building, designed by the star architect Renzo Piano, will open on a corner lot on West 21st Street in Chelsea in 2020.

The five-story building—the first commercial gallery built by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect—will become the headquarters of Zwirner’s multinational operation. The new facility will house 50,000 square feet of exhibition space across three floors as well as two floors of office and storage facilities, according to a spokesperson for the gallery. Once complete, the building will bring the gallery’s number of locations in New York to four. It is its seventh space worldwide.

The news comes at the beginning of a landmark year for the gallery, which is kicking off its 25th anniversary celebrations this week. On January 27, Zwirner will also open its first space in Asia, a 10,000-square-foot gallery in Hong Kong.

“As fortune favors the brave, we are looking back exactly when we’re opening in Hong Kong and looking forward,” Zwirner told the New York Times, which first reported the story.

At a time when mega-galleries continue to gobble up real estate around the world and mid-size galleries struggle to stay afloat, Zwirner shrugged off the suggestion that he might be growing too large, too quickly. Speaking to the Times, he suggested that the move is essential to keep up with rivals such as Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth, who have set the breakneck pace of relentless expansion.

“It will upgrade the quality of my spaces, and that is something attractive for all these people that I need in my life—the artists and the people who work here,” he said.

Zwirner will likely close the gallery’s 19th Street space when the new mega-building opens, but its 30,000-square-foot, Annabelle Selldorf-designed concrete complex on 20th Street will remain in operation.

The new space represents the second major Renzo Piano building on the far west side of Manhattan, which is also home to the architect’s Whitney Museum of American Art. Zwirner said he frequently has to remind Piano—who has also designed the Fondation Beyeler outside Basel and the Centre Pompidou in Paris—that “we don’t need coat checks, we don’t need ticket booths and the size of the lobby doesn’t have to be quite that large.”

Along with the new space, the gallery also announced a high-profile addition—or, more precisely, return—to its roster. The estate of Franz West will be represented again by David Zwirner, more than 17 years after the artist left to join Gagosian Gallery in 2000. Zwirner opened his first space on Greene Street in SoHo with a West exhibition in 1993.

In a recent Wall Street Journal profile, the dealer recounted how difficult it was to lose the artist after cautioning him against showing with the fellow mega-gallery. West will have a piece in the gallery’s upcoming 25th anniversary exhibition, which is due to open on January 13.

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