In June 2010, Judd Foundation began an extensive restoration of 101 Spring Street, the New York home and studio of Donald Judd (1928-1994). The goal is to restore the building’s
failing historic façade and preserve the integrity of the living and working spaces that Judd created within the building. Building system improvements will allow safe public access with minimal impact to the aesthetic character of Judd’s installed spaces, which include works of art by Judd himself and that of his peers. The building also retains original 19th Century details to which Judd added unique design elements of his own, all of which the Foundation and our architectural team are committed to preserving as part of the restoration.
In 1968, Donald Judd purchased 101 Spring Street, a five- story cast-iron building designed by Nicholas Whyte and built in 1870. It was the first building that Judd owned, and he had an intense appreciation for its architecture and the surrounding SoHo neighborhood.
As one of the founding sites in the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 101 Spring Street is the only intact, single-use cast-iron building remaining in SoHo. This distinction has earned it the highest designation for national significance as part of the SoHo Historic Cast-Iron District.
Serving as the New York residence and studio of Donald Judd, 101 Spring Street is considered to be the birthplace of Judd’s concept of “permanent installation,” where the placement of a work of art is as important as the work itself—a concept that is now a hallmark of contemporary art, as well as an inspiration for much of Judd’s work (see Donald Judd Brief Biography, below).
The architectural elements designed by Donald Judd throughout the building respond to its historic design by preserving the full expanse of each floor and avoiding the use of internal walls. It shows a true fusion of 19th-century architecture with radical concepts of modern domestic design.
Through Judd’s travels abroad, trips to local antique shops and bazaars, and exchanges with fellow artists and dealers, Judd collected more than 1,000 works of art and design at 101 Spring Street. Throughout the five floors of the building, alongside his own art and furniture, Judd installed works bought or commissioned from other artists.
Judd’s home and studio at 101 Spring Street enabled his ideas to expand and his work to grow. The permanently installed works of art at 101 Spring Street embody Judd’s ideas on art and space. In the early 1970s, Judd’s creative vision led him to acquire property in Marfa, Texas, and the ranch lands of Presidio County, where he developed his ideas on art and architecture. There, Judd founded the Chinati Foundation in 1986 to oversee the large-scale public art works he originally commissioned for Dia Art Foundation. Judd’s private spaces, now preserved by Judd Foundation, are distinct from the public exhibition spaces of Chinati, and include the artist’s residence, studios, library, archives, and the works of art that Judd installed throughout more than 118,000 square feet in 15 distinct buildings.
Through the 1970s and 1980s, 101 Spring Street remained a primary inspiration for Judd’s art making; he continued to oversee renovations and the placement of art there into the 1990s.
Prior to restoration, the building was in a serious state of deterioration, with structural damage caused by exposure
to the environment (wind, water and temperature variations). Without intervention, the deterioration would have continued unabated, jeopardizing the building’s integrity and that of the installed art and objects inside.
Built to house light manufacturing, 101 Spring Street was not designed for the display of art or for its long-term preservation. The 140 year-old building lacked environmental controls and did not meet New York City’s rigorous safety codes. This not only endangered the installed spaces, but also made public gatherings for educational and other programs unfeasible.
In the early 1990s, Judd sought the advice of engineers and architects to address the building’s failing façade, though restoration proved too costly for him to realize. Following the transfer of ownership from the artist’s estate to Judd Foundation, a master plan for the building’s restoration was commissioned in 2001 with funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Shortly thereafter, emergency stabilization efforts were undertaken. To protect pedestrians from falling debris, loose cast-iron was removed and protective scaffolding was erected and remains in place today.
The project team is repairing and replacing the cast-iron façade and windows; leaving intact as much of the historic material as possible; updating the building’s fire, life safety and other systems to meet code and support a museum-like environment; cleaning and treating the installed artworks and objects; and reconfiguring the lower level to create a multi- purpose room for public gatherings and suitable office space for staff.
Restoration began in early June 2010 (following a birthday celebration in honor of Donald Judd on June 3), with the de-installation of the building. Work is on schedule to be completed in late 2012, and the building will reopen to the public in June 2013.
The restoration will allow greater access to the public to experience how Donald Judd lived and worked in the space, thereby gaining a greater understanding of Judd’s legacy. There will be frequent guided visits of the building led by artist docents, and public programs that offer opportunities to understand Judd’s work in the context of his time, such as exhibitions, lectures, symposia and publications.
Project Architect: Architecture Research Office (ARO)
Exterior Restoration Architect: Walter B. Melvin Architects
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman & Associates
Construction Manager: F. J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc. Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, and Fire Protection Engineers: Arup Fire
Art Conservation: Art Conservation Services and Judd Foundation Advisory Committee for Conservation and Restoration.
Legal Counsel: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
Judd Foundation Buildings Committee: Robert C. Beyer, Judd Foundation Board Member; Flavin Judd, Judd Foundation Vice President; and Guy Nordenson, Guy Nordenson and Associates.