Two Art Galleries That Fill Unused Space Beneath NYC’s Highline

StudioMDA, led by architect Markus Dochantschi, has set up two adjacent art galleries in Chelsea, New York. One of the galleries is situated directly under the High Line: a park built on the historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan's West Side.

High Line Nine and Kasmin Gallery have been first announced by StudioMDA in 2017 and finalized towards the end of 2018. Situated next to each other between 520 West 27th and 28th street, the two buildings make use of the overlooked and empty space under the rail line park in a former industrial zone of Chelsea.

High Line Nine is a collection of art galleries situated directly under New York’s hanging park. The close to 1000 m2 interior accommodates numerous galleries offering them nine exhibition spaces connected by a central corridor. The whole interior of the building is optimized for maximum  space and light in this ‘under the bridge’ structure. The central corridor has sloped, concrete floors which creates space and exposed high line columns add to the industrial style of the gallery, giving homage to the area’s past function. Each of the galleries offers museum-quality lighting as well as a lot of natural light. The facade of High Line Nine is cast with white bronze, once again embracing the history of the space which was home to a metal recycling yard for half a century.

The second space, Kasmin Gallery, is a multi-purpose gallery which acts as a hall for displaying art with maximum spatial flexibility and daylight inside of it. The exhibition area is rather large, ca. 280 m2, meant to showcase bigger artworks. The ceiling of the interior is interesting as it a grid made out of concrete coffers with skylights providing natural light. The interior of the gallery is minimal, spacious and elegant while at the same time incorporating industrial-looking elements, such as the concrete ceiling. The Kasmin Gallery’s roof has been landscaped, creating a ‘unique sculpture garden’ visible to the visitors of the High Line park.

Both of these sites showcase clever ways of filling in what could previously be seen as ‘in-between’ spaces of the city. Especially in a former industrial zone, the need for re-development and reinvention is growing. However, it is also important for the area to remain cohesive, reminding people of its past.