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Learning to Love Norman Foster's Big Red Box

The reviews are in for British starchitect Norman Foster's new Sperone Westwater Gallery down at 257 Bowery, and they're not great. Some negative nellies trash everything about it, while others claim it falls short of what Foster has built elsewhere. Then again, there are those who say the narrow building "elevates the Bowery," specifically the signature "moving room" (we rode in it!) that serves as added exhibition space. Yet another review says the gallery is "exhilarating, new, and essential" and makes note of the singular experience visitors have when they enter the lobby and suddenly the ceiling begins to rise. That's when the real fun beings. Going up?

Awesome is the word as light floods the lobby and the workings of Foster's machinery are laid bare. The operative hardware for the elevator is covered in chrome, notably two burly pistons bolted to the bare concrete. The polished surfaces sharply reflect the box above, the bottom covered in panels redder than red. As the room rises a rippled sky is suddenly visible through the corrugated glass, the image doubled and tripled across the curved chrome surfaces. Naturally the art deeper inside the gallery is worth a look, as is the surprise view from the second-floor terrace out back. There, Sperone Westwater's black metal exterior, butting up against old bricks and overlooking a neighboring garden, can be examined up close. But for some, the better and more elevating view is from down below, watching Foster's mechanics in action.
· Lord Foster falls short with Sperone Westwater gallery on Bowery [The Real Deal]
· New Gallery Elevates the Bowery [WSJ]
· Foster's Big Move on the Bowery [Architect's Newspaper]
· NYT Critic Trashes Norman Foster's New Bowery Building [Curbed]
· 257 Bowery coverage [Curbed]