Modern Pioneer, Pioneering ‘Modern’: A Glance Inside 101 Spring Street

These days, it’s easy to overlook greatness.

So easy in fact, that thousands of tourists and locals alike rush past one of New York’s least-known but most treasured spaces every day. The Judd Foundation at 101 Spring Street in SoHo isn’t just a beautifully restored cast-iron façade; it’s a portal, a time machine whose dial is set to the primordial beginnings of modern interiors, art, design, furniture, and philosophy.

Judd Foundation - 101 Spring Street - Exterior

11 years and $23 million in meticulous, painstaking renovations later the historic studio/home is now open to the public (by appointment) and has been fully restored to the year 1994, when its long-time owner and celebrated American artist Donald Judd, passed away. Originally constructed in 1870, this pre-electricity era building is both a superior and unique example of classical revival cast-iron construction, surviving and surpassing that of its neighboring peers who have all since been subdivided into lofts or offices.

Full of equal amounts natural light and iconic modern art by contemporaries he considered his close friends: Dan Flavin; John Chamberlain; Lucas Samaras; David Novros, and bolstered by curious personal effects arranged just so, the foundation is truly one-of-a-kind. Also featured is a stunning collection of furniture by celebrated Finish-born architect Alvar Aalto, and a variety of original pieces designed by Judd himself.

Part of what makes the space so special is the completely open, loft-like interior. Containing over 200 pieces of art and furniture, and nearly 1,800 household items one might assume the space would feel cramped or crowded. To the contrary, the experience is both airy and eccentric as one navigates creaking off-kilter staircases leading to vast open spaces made in part by Judd’s insistence on removing all internal walls.

Led by the Architecture Research Office, a small team of highly skilled architects and engineers toiled to restore the intimacy, imagination, and social significance of Judd’s home as it was during his life. Since it’s reopening, only two small groups of eight are allowed inside at the same time, in an effort to preserve these qualities.

The New York Times called the finished project “one of the most stunning artist-house museums in the country.” For more information or to book your own tour of this cultural gem, visit:

Judd Foundation - First Floor - Empire Brick


// Original article by Jake Sweet, September, 2014 for //

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