This gallery is intended to show not only the works of Henry Moore but also sculpture from any period. The new centre is located in three existing 19th century wool merchants’ offices, and had to strike a balance between these buildings, domestic in character, and the particular needs of a sculpture institute.
The four-storey buildings divide naturally to give galleries on the upper ground floor served by storage and plant rooms below, the first floor as a study centre and the second floor for administration. The only new building is the main gallery space created by filling in a three-sided courtyard. A bridge at first floor level links the Institute with the adjacent Leeds City Art Gallery.
The exterior presented a unusual urban challenge. The Institute occupies the end of a terrace cut back in the 1930s to create an enlarged square in the middle of Leeds. The entrance to the gallery had to make something of the cut of the terrace. In this case, the context was important, not because of the sensitivity of the adjacent buildings, but because the façade had to be part of a newly created urban space.
This gave licence to design a radical minimalist sculptural object that was placed against the end of the terrace, rather like a giant piece of urban furniture.
A tall eccentrically-placed slot in the polished wall marks the entrance and the location of the shallow stepped passage that leads to the galleries.