R & Company in New York
WHY was commissioned by the international auction house to design their West Coast flagship, adapting a single-story commercial structure in Beverly Hills into an elegant space which expresses the heritage and modernity of the brand. The building needed to beautifully accommodate the wide range of objects within the auction house’s purview – including contemporary art, Old Master paintings, jewelry, and luxury items – as well serving as space for entertaining, research, and administration. We were tasked with designing a multi-functional “swiss army knife” of a structure – within just 5400 square feet.
We worked with senior specialists and operations staff to understand the specific requirements of each department, streamlining the program to allow for a generously scaled ground-floor gallery without sacrificing operational space. Each space is connected seamlessly to others and can be used simultaneously. The main gallery is designed with maximum flexibility for events and exhibitions, optimized with a high performing lighting system which can be calibrated to each object on display. The upstairs offices and meeting rooms are comfortably designed for meetings and research, with custom furnishing by WHY. A 1400 square foot rooftop terrace provides a multi-functional outdoor space for hosting events, and the building as a whole allows for a carefully tuned balance between sociability and privacy.
The distinctive aesthetics of the building were developed through extensive conversations with the client. We were inspired by the work of the Viennese artist and designer Josef Hoffmann to create a formal palette based on clear-cut curves and softened angles, asserting a strong sense of continuity between the interior and exterior.
The most prominent feature of the design is the undulating screen of pearlescent white aluminum which wraps the exterior. We were tasked with creating an opulent yet understated façade which would allow the building to hold its own in relation to its neighbors – while ensuring maximum cost efficiency. After testing several different approaches, we applied an extrusion process which allowed us to maintain the singularity of the sheet metal; with just three strategically arranged extrusions, we were able to create a highly varied pattern at minimum cost. The process also allowed us to create return curves, which fold back upon themselves to create a lush shadow line. The overall effect is one of continuous flow, achieved through highly economical use of minimal materials.
“WHY was tasked with reimagining a very simple rectangular building into something fresh and new. It was a matter of keeping in mind the elegance of a classic Christie’s building, but redefining it into a modern gallery space."