Long before the world minimalism became part of architectural vernacular, even before the acronym Soho came to define a New York City neighborhood, the great American artist Donald Judd was busy going about the business of turning a 5-story building in downtown Manhattan into a monastic living and working space for himself and his family—and, in the process, defining the prototypical artist’s loft. Removing obstructions, opening up the internal space, Judd slowly re-fashioned the once-commerical building, which he acquired in 1968 for under $70,000, into five separate floors of open areas for living, working, and installing art from his growing collection. Spare, urban lofts and cavernous, all-white modern art galleries now dotting every American city are, in some measure, indebted to Judd’s vision for 101 Spring Street.
Miraculously, the historic cast-iron building has remained in the Judd Family since the artist’s death in 1994, preserved as a single-family residence in a neighborhood which long surrendered to designer names, gourmet coffee shops and brand new apartment buildings designed by architecture’s most glamorous names. The Judd Foundation, formed by Judd’s two children, was determined to hold onto the building long enough to raise the funds for a sweeping renovation aimed at fulfilling Donald Judd’s vision for 101 Spring Street as an art space. The renovation took 8 years, cost $28 million, and, from the looks of the photos, has given New York a new art gallery of sublime grace. 101 Spring Street will open its doors to the public (by appointment only) in June.
Photos: Architect Magazine