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Things You Didn't Know: Donald Judd Home + Studio

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Published on
September 19, 2023
Things You Didn't Know: Bloomberg Connects

Donald Judd Home + Studio

Donald Judd’s home and studio, located in a 19th century warehouse on Spring Street in downtown Manhattan, underwent a complete renovation in 2013.  Adam Yarinsky, Principal of Architecture Research Office (ARO), discusses his firm’s complete renovation of the interior and exterior and the restoration process in an exclusive audio clip on the Bloomberg Connects Archtober Guide.  

Prioritizing Preservation

Judd stated in his will that the building be preserved and accessible to the public. The NYC-based architecture firm ARO and collaborators, such as Silman, ARUP, and Walter B. Melvin Architects, worked to make the historic 101 Spring Street safe for the public, while also ensuring the building retained its authenticity to the space Judd had created.  

As part of the preservation process, ARO had to address the structure’s falling pieces of rusted cast iron and other safety violations. While fixing these problems, ARO worked closely with the Judd Foundation to understand Judd’s own creative process and to keep the authentic experience of the building.

Floor 4 of Judd Foundation. Image Credit: Judd Foundation

Hidden Emergency Systems

One of the methods used in maintaining the building’s original character was the unique placement of the fire sprinklers. Donald Judd had removed the exposed fire sprinkler systems on three floors. Modern infrastructure, such as new fire protection and life safety systems, were discreetly installed into the walls so as not to disrupt the ceiling.

On the fifth floor of the building is a site-specific light piece by Dan Flavin, the sole lighting source on the floor. Installation of neon emergency signage would interrupt the experience of the floor; thus, the Flavin piece is wired to an emergency circuit to provide signage needed in the event of a fire.

Floor 5 of Judd Foundation. Image Credit: Judd Foundation

Exterior restorations

In addition to the necessary interior restorations, the exterior was renovated as well. Since the building’s original construction in 1870, the façade fell into a state of disrepair. The non-structural cast iron pieces, around 1,300 total, were removed, cleaned, patched, or recast, primed, and repainted. All the window frames were replaced with new wood matching the original structure. The entire façade was repainted in the medium gray color chosen by Donald Judd when he lived in the building.  

Exterior of Judd Foundation. Image Credit: Judd Foundation

ARO’s collaborative restoration work brought new life to 101 Spring Street. Donald Judd believed the placement of a work of art was essential to the understanding of the art. The restoration of the building ensured that visitors can experience the art in the ways Judd intended, and the art can continue to exist in its site-specific location.

To hear more about the Judd Foundation at 101 Spring Street, head to the Archtober Guide on Bloomberg Connects.