CIRCA on Jellicoe
In 1979, Everard Read commissioned Meyer, Pienaar & Partners to design a new purpose-built gallery on Jellicoe Avenue in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Established in 1913, our gallery is one of the world’s oldest art-dealing institutions and had for decades been operating from spacious galleries opposite Johannesburg’s venerable Rand Club. The decision to move to a building in the suburbs that has become a post-modern landmark has proved to be a fortuitous one, and the gallery has evolved hugely over the past two decades.
Towards the end of the 1980s we had the opportunity to purchase a small property immediately below the Everard Read gallery on the corner of Jellicoe and Jan Smuts Avenues. This is a highly visible location at one of Johannesburg’s busiest intersections.
Over the course of years, the kernel of an idea to erect an iconic contemporary building on this site took root in my imagination: a building that would add to the enjoyment ‘Jozi’ dwellers derive from our city and one that would also be remembered by visitors to South Africa. These ambitions were fueled by a growing belief that in order to realise its full potential, this new building shouldn’t be part of an existing art gallery. Here was an opportunity to create a structure that might one day exhibit not only South Africa’s finest contemporary art but also showcase new technological wonders, host lectures, serve as a venue for fine theatre and provide a temporary home for some of the extraordinary treasures loaned from our natural history and cultural museums. Happily, with perhaps an equal mixture of serendipity and inevitability.
I met Pierre Swanepoel, an architect whose work I have long admired.
The consequence of that meeting is CIRCA on Jellicoe, a building that will grace Johannesburg far into the future and hopefully afford all visitors both pleasure and stimulation. Mark Read 2009Building Architectural Information www.studiomas.co.za