Photo: Foster and Partners

It is difficult to fathom at first why a famous architect with one of the largest practices in the world would personally want to take on a sliver of a building on the Bowery.

This is Norman Foster, after all, who redesigned the Reichstag in Berlin and the British Museum and created Beijing’s new airport. He has already made his mark on Manhattan, with the bold Hearst Building on Eighth Avenue at 57th Street, and has also designed three other major projects not yet under construction: the expansion of the main branch of the New York Public Library, Tower 2 at the World Trade Center site and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

But architects often say the possibilities of a building lie in its limitations, and Mr. Foster was drawn to the challenge of designing what is essentially a vertical art gallery on New York City’s former skid row, a landscape dominated by restaurant supply stores. The building, at 257 Bowery, just south of Houston Street and one block away from the New Museum of Contemporary Art, will be the new Lower East Side home for Sperone Westwater. The gallery, now on West 13th Street in the West Village, represents artists like Bruce Nauman, Richard Long, Guillermo Kuitca and William Wegman. At its new address it will rise eight stories on a site of just 25 by 100 feet.


Robin Pogrebin
New York Times