Drawing Center Plans Expansion

After years of casting around for a new home, the space-starved Drawing Center has found a way to stay put and expand its galleries, reports Carol Vogel in the New York Times.

It has bought 2,000 square feet on the second floor of its home, a nineteenth-century cast-iron-fronted building on Wooster Street in SoHo, where it has been for twenty-five years. Plans call for connecting the ground floor to the newly acquired space. The basement level will be renovated too and linked to the other two floors.

“It’s a new way of thinking about growth,” said Brett Littman, executive director of the Drawing Center. “The reason people love the Drawing Center is because it’s a human-scale organization. We don’t need a 30,000-square-foot atrium, nor do we need a new $60 million building.”

In 2007 the institution was on the verge of moving to the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan, where it planned to build a $60 million museum. But it walked away from the proposal in 2008.

“It was the wrong project at the wrong time,” Mr. Littman said. “Back then SoHo was dying. While it is never going to be what it was in the 1980s, there’s a lot going on, with seventy-five commercial galleries within a ten-minute walk.” He added that attendance has risen 35 percent since 2007 to 35,000 visitors a year. Under the expansion plan the Drawing Center will close when work begins in July and reopen in March 2012.