David Adjaye: A House for an Art Collector (Rizzoli International, $50)
Text by Peter Allison, Adam Lindemann and interviews with David Adjaye, with principal photography by Robert Polidori and Lyndon Douglas
David Adjaye: A House for an Art Collector reads more like architectural plans than a book, a result that was most likely exactly what the progressive architect and the writers Adam Lindemann and Peter Allison – the latter has written two other books on Adjaye-intended. Adjaye is most well known for designing the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Noble Peace Center in Oslo and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. 77E77 was an entirely different animal. Over the course of five years of designing and construction, the abandoned 1897 Lenox Hill carriage house was crafted into both a home and an art gallery, full of interlocking living spaces, dark grandeur and sophisticated design. The 128-page House for an Art Collector opens with construction shots, elevation diagrams and blueprint-like plans: not your ordinary coffe table book. It gradually guides readers through the process of transforming the classic Upper East Side carriage house into an innovative home replete with idea spaces to showcase a rotating art collection alongside room for an expanding family. Some high points: textured black concrete, a glass staircase that also operates as an intercom and a glass elevator. A glass bridge connecting the living room to the floating library is another showstopper, but in a house such as 77E77, it’s simply impossible to name them all. The multiple pages of blueprints and floor plans can be a bit much to take, but just as the mind begins to wonder, the focus is intuitively shifted, with the reader being rewarded with a detailed photo of some textured surface within the house. This seems par for the course in A House for an Art Collector – intermixing more tedious diagrams with sexier, textured photos.
Perhaps the most interesting point within the volume was the preface by Lindemann, which told the tale behind the townhouse-his current home with wife Amalia, their five children and their extensive art collection. Their collection includes works such as The Undesirables by Tim Noble and Sue Webster, which sat in storage for years prior to the construction of the home; Urs Fischer’s Paris 1919; and Franz West’s White, Blue, Yellow. In fact, it was the art collection that spawned the creation of 77E77, not a burgeoning family. In it, Lindemann acknowledges that this labyrinth of a home may not do it for everyone: “Undoubtedly this building and décor will not appeal to everyone; however, it was specifically designed not to.”