The Dia Art Foundation has announced plans to revitalize its existing exhibition spaces in New York—in Chelsea, SoHo, and the upstate town of Beacon—while developing an endowment for operations in the future. Funding for the initiatives will come from a $78-million capital campaign, the majority of which will be invested in the organization’s endowment. So far, $60 million has already been raised.
As part of the efforts, the Architecture Research Office has created plans to upgrade and expand exhibition spaces in Chelsea; the sites of Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979); and a former location in SoHo, at 77 Wooster Street, that once played home to historic Dia shows featuring the likes of Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Barnett Newman.
The foundation’s two current public spaces on West 22nd Street in Chelsea—until recently the sites for long-term presentations of work by François Morellet and Rita McBride, and before that Robert Ryman, LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela, and others—will be united into a single 32,500-square-foot facility, with 20,000 square feet of space for programming and the return of a Dia bookstore that was once a hallmark of Chelsea in its early years. (It will also include street-level exhibition space in the building between the two others, which has and will continue to serve as Dia’s office space.)
The work on the permanent De Maria installations, The New York Earth Room and The Broken Kilometer, will involve renovations to infrastructure and HVAC systems, while the space nearby, at 77 Wooster Street (connected to the back of the The Broken Kilometer site, which has an entrance on West Broadway), will be reclaimed after having been rented to commercial enterprises for years. (The space is currently home to the Shade Store, which will vacate the premises.)
Upstate at Dia:Beacon, basement-level galleries will be upgraded and built out to add 11,000 square feet of new exhibition space in a vast former factory that will also undergo renovations to current systems for lighting as well as work on the landscaping and facade.
Dia’s director, Jessica Morgan, said that the plans—part of a multi-year process with a timeline that will become more clear when work begins—carry on in the spirit of the foundation’s programming as it has developed since she assumed her position in 2015. “I thought a lot about what we actually want from the spaces we have and what’s important in terms of how artists see those spaces,” Morgan told ARTnews. “I spent a lot of time talking to artists about what they wanted and what we could provide, and there was resounding enthusiasm for leaving the spaces as they are as much as possible”—meaning a continued adherence to Dia’s longtime prioritization of natural light and minimal adornment. “Artists are excited to use them because they’re not overwhelming or dominating and speak to the type of spaces we’ve always worked with.”
The reclaimed Wooster Street space—to be named Dia:Soho—will give extra grounding to the two permanent De Maria sites in the neighborhood, Morgan said. And the bookstore in Chelsea—in the spirit of a foundational shop that was a lynchpin of the former Dia Center for the Arts from 1987 to 2004—will add to the foundation’s presence there. “We see the bookstore as very much part of our program,” Morgan said.
About the plan overall, Morgan said it is a continuation rather than a reimagining. “It’s not about square footage, because we have 300,000 square feet up in Beacon—it’s about what spaces can do. This comes from reevaluating what we want and realizing that we have to look at the totality. That’s what makes Dia exceptional—there’s an entire constellation of spaces and so much more that we can do. It’s not about trying to create another enormous site—that’s not what we need. What we need is very particular space.”