The peripatetic principal of architecture firm wHY is putting his stamp on major cultural institutions
“I sometimes see my role as a matchmaker between art and people,” says architect Kulapat Yantrasast, the peripatetic principal of high-profile firm wHY. “The aim is to create an uplifting space with great light and qualities that allow both of them to be together in confidence and comfortability. Then I can recede into the background and let the magic work.”
Born in Bangkok, Yantrasast honed his timeless aesthetic under the watchful eye of celebrated Japanese architect Tadao Ando before striking out on his own in 2004. Today his practice, which counts offices in New York and Los Angeles, has 30 employees and a host of projects under its belt, among them the Marciano Art Foundation and David Kordansky Gallery (both in L.A.), Kentucky’s Speed Art Museum, and the new Tribeca outpost of design gallery R & Company. His uncanny ability to create buildings as understated as they are compelling has led to two of his highest-profile commissions: renovations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Most recently, Yantrasast made a splash by crafting the temporary pavilion for the inaugural edition of the art fair Frieze L.A., which launched in February. He found this commission a particularly encouraging sign of the growing influence of cultural movers and shakers: “I hope in the future that art gets to play a larger role in empathy and diplomacy for the world.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2019 Spring Issue under the headline Creative Minds. Subscribe to the magazine.