The garage—it is a utilitarian structure if ever there was one. A simple building with a simple purpose, the garage is rarely an example of great architecture. The ability, then, to transform these drab, mundane edifices into stunning spaces with a myriad of uses is truly a design feat. From East Coast to West Coast, Interior Design looks at several garage conversions large and small that reinvent car storage areas and auto repair shops as soaring spaces for art, open offices, a lively restaurant, and a new kind of family room—all with a nod to the buildings’ gritty past.
1. Firm: wHY Architecture
Project: Kordansky Gallery
Location: Los Angeles, California
Standout: wHY Architecture has designed galleries for such esteemed institutions as the recently re-opened Harvard Art Museums and the Art Institute of Chicago. For the Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles, opened in September, wHY merged several buildings, including a food market and car repair shop, to create a soaring space for art—paying homage to the structure’s industrial roots by exposing trusses and ducts.
2. Firm: Selldorf Architects
Project: Berg’n Restaurant
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Standout: The cool vibe surrounding Brooklyn’s Berg’n is a far cry from the service station that once occupied the brick-clad structure. The 9,000 square-foot beer garden style restaurant serves craft brews and a mix of culinary delights from popular food vendors from around the borough. Selldorf Architects replaced garage doors with operable storefronts made from black aluminum and glass. Inside, the main beer hall space has long, reclaimed wood picnic tables, a refurbished vintage bar, food vendor stalls clad in quilted stainless steel, and industrial copper light fixtures.
3. Firm: HS2 Architecture
Project: Pace Gallery
Location: New York, NY
Standout: Located under the High Line in a part of Manhattan once dotted with garages and auto body repair shops, Pace Gallery is just one of many exhibition spaces that has replaced those businesses to transform the area into a destination for art. Constrained by the High Line tracks above, HS2 Architecture created a structural solution with very shallow steel members to maximize ceiling height. Skylights running the length of the east and west party walls allow natural light to flood the galleries.
4. Firm: AA Studio
Project: AA Studio offices
Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
Standout: With a niche for restoring former industrial spaces into elegant workspaces for creative use, architecture firm AA Studio converted a Brooklyn, NY garage into its own offices. A transparent glass façade replaces the original garage entrance, rendering the large conference room visible from the street. The new space, lined by exposed brick walls, also includes eight work stations, a principal’s office, a kitchen, a server and printing rooms, and storage area.
5. Firm: Menter Architects
Project: Residential gym
Location: Seattle, Washington
Standout: For a Seattle family with three young kids who love to climb, flip, swing, dance, and hang out with their friends, Menter Architects transformed a freestanding, two-story garage into a durable, multi-purpose family room with a clean, modern aesthetic. The 413-square-foot vaulted gym opens to the patio and garden with steps that serve as a stage for kids’ performances.