In summer of 2014, José Parlá, the Cuban-American artist and painter, worked with Snøhetta to convert a warehouse in Gowanus, Brooklyn into his new working studio.
The design of Jose’s studio is one in a series of collaborations with Snøhetta, including the integrated artwork for the façade of the Far Rockaway Public Library in Queens, New York. José’s mural, Nature of Language, was completed last year and lives in the Snøhetta-designed James B. Hunt Jr Library at North Carolina State University.
The architectural solution divides the studio into two main areas - the Arena and the Nest. A pair of interlocking U-shaped wall systems create the studio’s new Arena, the main working area with ample space to exhibit José’s current works.
Overlooking the Arena is the studio’s Nest – a cozy mezzanine provides a relaxing space for the artist to take distance from his work, and an elevated location to view his paintings from a new perspective.
This renovation project retains the aesthetics of the building’s working past, including the industrial ceilings and concrete floors. For a more comfortable work environment, the old skylights were re-opened to allow natural light into the middle of the working space. The interiors are painted with neutral grey tones to allow the vibrant colors of José’s paintings to stand out more brightly within the work space.
Upon entering the studio, visitors pass through large folding doors and are welcomed by a small gallery and kitchen. When Parlá Studios hosts an event or wants to more formally display works of art, by repainting the floors and adjusting the wall configuration, the studio quickly transforms into a clean, curated gallery of José’s work and process.
Pivoting walls provide flexibility to accommodate large scale murals, like the recently completed mural for Tower 1 at the World Trade Center, ONE: Union of the Senses, and facilitate the moving and handling of large works.