Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 3/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
No boring white box. not from design-build architecture firm Sand Studios, not for the owners of Sculpturesite Gallery, located a block from Mario Botta's San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. As the name of the gallery implies, it deals exclusively in sculpture, contemporary abstract and figurative pieces from around the world. So principal Larissa Sand and designer Oblio Jenkins responded with sculpture of their own: a grand gesture set off by intricate detailing.
"The space already had a Sheetrock core, all set up for a sculptural event," Jenkins points out. He and Sand simply took that central volume, expanded it to 24 by 34 feet, and clad its sides in sheets of hot-rolled steel—a signature of the studio. "Hot-rolling gives metal a smoky finish. We left the flame marks visible, using only a clear sealant," Sand explains. One of the steel walls cants slightly forward, a dynamic form visible from the 2,700-square-foot gallery's two street-front window walls.
Carving away one corner of the steel core, Sand and Jenkins fashioned a recess for a reception desk with a front of the same steel and a top of poured concrete, also used for the gallery's floor. Inside the enclosure, the architects placed an office, a kitchen, and a bathroom as well as a private room where deals are closed. The tall window between the closing room and the gallery proper is a clear panel of cast glass laminated with bits of ruby-red and gray glass for spark.
Details are subtle. Junctures are seamless. "We used to like an industrial look, with exposed rivets and joints," Sand says. "Now we're more refined." Edges and corners are concealed with a trim of steel that's been cold-rolled, a process yielding metal a shade or two darker.
Transformed from an obstruction into an organizing element, the core lends the surrounding interior a choreographed grace. As for the dancers, they come in all shapes and sizes, from a group of life-size male and female ceramic figures, seemingly flying through the air, to a constructivist bronze taking a stance on a steel cabinet and sculptural gold rings, presented in a down-lit niche.