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Judd Foundation's Home Gets a Redo

Most homeowners might welcome the chance to seal up a vast expanse of exposed earth in the basement of their building. Not Rainer Judd. Ms. Judd, the daughter of the sculptor Donald Judd, was raised along with her brother, Flavin, in 101 Spring St., a 19th-century building that is part of SoHo's Cast-Iron Historic District. The elder Mr. Judd purchased the property in 1968. Since 1996, it has housed the Judd Foundation, but the structure's deteriorating cast-iron facade has plagued its owners since the early 1990s. As a result, the five-story building has been shrouded in black netting until restoration money could be raised. On Thursday, the foundation, of which Ms. Judd is president, finally kicked off what will be a three-year, $25 million restoration of the building with a "barn raising" accompanied by steak, vodka and chocolate cake. The foundation—which develops public programming around a $200 million collection including works by Mr. Judd, Marcel Duchamp and Frank Stella—also announced a new $30 million capital campaign, $5 million of which will establish an endowment for the upkeep of the Spring Street building and the foundation's properties in Marfa, Texas, where Mr. Judd did some work starting in the 1970s. (In 2006, the foundation sold 36 works by Mr. Judd for $27.7 million, proceeds of which went toward foundation operations.) The restoration plan calls for each of the building's more than 1,300 cast-iron pieces to be removed and sent to a foundry. Those too damaged to restore will be recast using the original techniques, according to Barbara Hunt McLanahan, the foundation's executive director. Interior changes will be made only to bring the building up to fire and safety codes, but some exterior adjustments will require workers to operate from within the building. Ms. Judd and Ms. McLanahan said their goal is to retain the building's original appearance as much as possible. "If you say, 'Well, you haven't done anything,' then we've succeeded," Ms. McLanahan said. Even so, Ms. Judd said she'll mourn one characteristic of her childhood home likely to disappear with its forthcoming update: its smell. At some point while the family still lived in the building, Mr. Judd tried to expand the subterranean space by removing a portion of the floor in the basement. His efforts revealed raw earth, which was never re-covered, and Ms. Judd said memories of her life in that space are inextricably linked to the organic odor of dirt. "Every time I walk into Spring Street, there's that smell that I haven't found anywhere else, and I'll miss it," Ms. Judd said.
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