NEW YORK – When discussing the marriage of art and architecture, curator Joachim Pissarro and architect John Keenan were not just speaking figuratively. The two joined forces with architect Terry Riley to form Parallel, a boutique firm that offers such services as architectural and curatorial programming and exhibition design for both “content and container” alike. While most curators wouldn’t move into a building until it’s finished, the principals at Parallel start collaborating before the scaffolding even goes up.

JOACHIM PISSARRO (LEFT) AND JOHN KEENAN AT SOTHEBY'S COCKTAILS & CONVERSATION SERIES ON 2 MAY.
PHOTOGRAPH BY COLIN MILLER.

At the second event of Sotheby’s Cocktails & Conversations series hosted in our pop-up Baccarat Hotel & Residences lounge, Pissarro and Keenan explained how, despite coming from different areas of expertise, they learned each other’s language as well as how to address their mutual challenges while managing projects for prestigious clients, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Museum of Contemporary Architecture in Hangzhou, China. By starting the dialogue early, Pissarro noted, the Parallel team is able to “think of how an art collection evolves with a building” and to avoid designing beautiful structures that nonetheless fall short of their client’s collection’s needs. “It’s important to develop art collections in close relationship to the spaces that house them, and vice versa.”

Currently, Parallel has a full project roster, including museum planning for FIFA, Bordighera and the Château de Breteuil. Regardless of the mandate, said Pissarro, each ideal job has something in common. “The client comes to us with everything to be done – everything is up for grabs and we have the opportunity to start from scratch.”

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