Hat-trick: Caruso St John architects unveil Liverpool Philharmonic, plus galleries for Damien Hirst and Larry Gagosian

by Tom Anstey | 14 Oct 2015

Three high-profile projects designed by architecture studio Caruso St John have opened in the space of just two weeks.

Two private art galleries designed by the firm have opened their doors in London; Damien Hirst’s £25m (US$38.2m, €33m) Newport Street Gallery and Larry Gagosian’s third – the largest gallery in the capital. Work has also been completed on a large-scale refurbishment of the 1939 Grade II-listed Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

The Newport Street Gallery is set out over two levels and comprises a string of three listed theatre production warehouses and two new buildings, which stretch the entire length of a street in Vauxhall. The new additions by Caruso St John use similar materials to the existing buildings, which were built in 1913.

Free for the public to visit, the 3,437sq m (37,000sq ft) gallery, houses the personal collection of Damien Hirst, comprising more than 3,000 pieces, including works by Francis Bacon, Jeff Koons and Banksy. The gallery also includes a shop and a café.

The gallery’s inaugural exhibition is dedicated to the work of John Hoyland, with the Sheffield-born abstract artist’s work filling all the building’s six gallery spaces.

The development is seen by local authority Lambeth Council as the start of a “Gallery Quarter,” alongside a major regeneration project in the area. This includes an extension to the underground, the regeneration of nearby Waterloo Station and a regeneration of Brixton.

Larry Gagosian’s new gallery is his 15th location. The Gagosian Grosvenor Hill in Mayfair is Caruso St John’s seventh collaboration with Gagosian, having also designed the US art dealer’s galleries in Hong Kong, Paris and Rome, as well as a smaller Mayfair location.

The 1,600sq m (17,200sq ft) gallery is centrally lit, with dark oak floors for contrast. The building’s exterior was designed by architects Tate Hindle. Clad in light-grey bricks, the building includes two large windows, which offer natural light and access for larger arriving artworks. The interior also includes two double-height gallery spaces with large openings, designed to give the ability to showcase a range of different pieces.

The gallery has been developed in conjunction with the land owner, Grosvenor Estates, which leased the building to Gagosian for 20 years. The development is part of a wider cultural regeneration of the area, with recent additions including the the headquarters of Phillips auction house, Sadie Coles gallery and fashion designer Hussein Chalayan's first shop.

The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall launched its new 250-capacity Music Room on 10 October, signalling the completion of its £14.5m (US$22.4m, €19.7m) refurbishment.

The renovations were carried out in two phases. The first stage, beginning in May 2014, saw work completed on the main hall, auditorium, backstage dressing rooms and the front of house space. Construction then began on the Music Room, which has been built at the rear of the main hall. It's designed to host concerts, smaller-scale performances, masterclasses and workshops. The venue can use cabaret-style seating or be cleared to create standing space.

The architects were tasked with enhancing the drama of the building’s original art deco detailing and design, and making the Hall more accessible and sustainable. They researched original architect Herbert Rowse’s intentions for the Hall and took inspiration from buildings designed by some of the contemporaries he admired.

Construction and fit-out contractor Gilbert-Ash were hired to undertake the refurbishment, following their work on the Stirling Prize-winning Liverpool Everyman Theatre.

Following the completion of the work, Michael Eakin, Liverpool Philharmonic’s chief executive, said: “With a design approach led by our architects Caruso St. John that's based on respecting and enhancing the heritage of the Hall with innovative design – we’ve aimed to ensure that building remains a beautiful, relevant and central part of Liverpool’s cultural and community life."

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Three high-profile projects designed by architecture studio Caruso St John have opened in the space of just two weeks. Two private art galleries designed by the firm have opened their doors in London; Damien Hirst’s £25m (US$38.2m, €33m) Newport Street Gallery and Larry Gagosian’s third – the largest gallery in the capital. Work has also been completed on a large-scale refurbishment of the 1939 Grade II-listed Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. The
Damien Hirst's Newport Street Gallery comprises a string of three listed theatre production warehouses and two new buildings
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