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Thread: Whitney Museum of American Art expansion - by Renzo Piano

  1. #46

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    A NIMBY's creed:

    "The city should ensure its residents that the residential areas are going to remain just as they are," Ms. Slater said. "They're areas where people live and rest and recharge. They're not supposed to be developed the way the rest of the city is, the more commercial areas."
    There's reason to beware Piano's addition, but this ain't it.

    See Piano's hatchet job on the Morgan for the real reason.

  2. #47
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    Default Cathing up on old threads...

    I actually think Piano's Morgan Library Atrium/Addition is brilliant. From initially viewing the outside, I was prepared for the worse - for it is understatement at its most bleak. However, the interior space is magnificent.

    I know this is not related to the Whitney, but the potshot at the Morgan project does not take into consideration the interior architecture and design.

  3. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynRider View Post
    I actually think Piano's Morgan Library Atrium/Addition is brilliant. From initially viewing the outside, I was prepared for the worse - for it is understatement at its most bleak. However, the interior space is magnificent.

    I know this is not related to the Whitney, but the potshot at the Morgan project does not take into consideration the interior architecture and design.
    Hi, BR.

    I was wondering where you were. It's nice to see that you're still around!

  4. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynRider View Post
    ...the potshot at the Morgan project does not take into consideration the interior architecture and design.
    http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/sh...?t=3412&page=4

  5. #50
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    I think the interior as a whole space (and not segmented into snippits of photos) works very well. It is a library, not a museum. I think it works very well to effectively to create a space that joins the old library with the mansion without making the visitor feel as though they are tranversing a hallway. The exterior can't be defended, but the interior was top-notch, especially when you consider that this library is not really ever destined to appeal to families and K-12 school groups. A grown-up sophisticated space for a sophisticated audience.

  6. #51
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    Trustees at the Whitney are mulling whether to proceed with an addition designed by the architect Renzo Piano
    http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/sh...&postcount=159

    Dia Art Foundation Abandons Plans for a Museum at High Line

    October 25, 2006

    Officials familiar with the High Line discussions said that the Whitney Museum of American Art had emerged as a high-profile contender.

    Trustees at the Whitney are mulling whether to proceed with an addition designed by the architect Renzo Piano, those officials said. That plan calls for a series of glass bridges to connect the museum’s original 1966 Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street to a new nine-story tower. The officials said they did not want to be quoted for fear of being perceived as pre-empting a decision by the Whitney board.

    Asked whether the Whitney was considering backing out of the Piano expansion in favor of a site at the High Line, a museum spokeswoman, Jan Rothschild, said yesterday, “The Whitney is keeping its expansion options open,” adding, “We are considering several sites for additional space and have had discussions with the city about the Gansevoort/Washington site.”

    She declined to comment further, but the site abandoned by Dia is at 820 Washington Street, at Gansevoort ...

    Were the museum to back out of the Piano addition, it would be the third time that it has commissioned a celebrity architect to design a major expansion to its landmark building, only to renege. A $37 million design by Michael Graves was jettisoned in 1985; in 2003 the Whitney backed out of a $200 million addition by Rem Koolhaas.

  7. #52
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    October 31, 2006
    Whitney Museum May Move Expansion to Downtown Site
    By ROBIN POGREBIN

    Correction Appended

    The Whitney Museum of American Art, after fighting for more than a year to have an addition to its Madison Avenue building approved, has all but decided that moving its expansion to another site would make more sense, people involved in the process say.

    The museum won its struggle to have the city approve a tower designed by the architect Renzo Piano. But after weighing the pros and cons, those familiar with the process say, the Whitney has determined that the Piano project may not get the museum sufficient additional space for the money.

    The museum has instead set its sights on a location downtown at the entrance to the High Line, an abandoned elevated railway that is to become a landscaped esplanade. The Dia Art Foundation announced last week that it no longer planned to build a museum there.

    This marks a striking turn of events for the Whitney, since the museum has tried for 20 years to add onto its 1966 Marcel Breuer building. In July the museum finally completed the public approvals process and was allowed to go forward.

    Leonard A. Lauder, the Whitney’s chairman, declined to be interviewed. “Our responsibility is to ensure the long term programmatic and financial health of the Whitney,” said Jan Rothschild, a museum spokeswoman. “It would be easy to forge ahead with the expansion on Madison Avenue. We have received the necessary approvals from the city, and our fund-raising is going extremely well, but we want to make sure it is the best option for the program and collection of the museum before moving forward.”

    Board members are reluctant to discuss the High Line possibility, out of concern about offending the political officials whose support they will need to secure the site, those involved in the project say. Others spoke on condition of anonymity because the board had yet to vote on abandoning the Piano plan.

    The board members are coming off a bruising battle with Upper East Side residents and preservationists over the Piano addition. The architect produced many drafts of his design for the tower, which would have been in a designated historic district, after the Landmarks Commission insisted that he halve the width of a new Madison Avenue entrance to preserve a historic brownstone.

    In pricing out the cost of building a nine-story tower behind a row of historic brownstones, which would connect to the Breuer building through a series of glass bridges, the Whitney realized that the addition would add 16,000 to 20,000 square feet of exhibition space, when it had wanted 30,000.

    Construction costs have skyrocketed since the museum started planning for Mr. Piano’s addition, now estimated at $200 million, which — with an endowment drive — would bring the fund-raising goal to $500 million. The excavation would have to be done from behind the brownstones, an expensive and logistically challenging proposition. By contrast, the excavation involved in renovating the Morgan Library and Museum — also designed by Mr. Piano — was done from within the library’s property.

    Building at the downtown site would allow the Whitney to keep operating at its uptown location throughout the construction. To build the Piano addition, it would have been forced to close for two years, losing its presence at precisely the time that the New Museum of Contemporary Art was reopening in its new building on the Bowery.

    The museum could sell the historic brownstones and use the proceeds toward constructing a building downtown. And the city might contribute funds for a downtown Whitney because it owns the site and has an interest in anchoring the High Line with a cultural attraction. The city had committed $8 million to the Dia project.

    Dia had envisioned a two-story structure with 45,000 square feet of gallery space over two floors at a cost of $55 million, although the Whitney is expected to build something very different if it goes there.

    Many arts professionals in the city are asking why the Whitney is considering other options after spending so much time, effort and money fighting for the Piano expansion.

    This is not the first time the Whitney’s expansion plans have foundered. The board scrapped a $37 million design by Michael Graves in 1985 and a $200 million design by Rem Koolhaas in 2003.

    Its institutional reputation too has encountered rough spots. Adam D. Weinberg was hired as the Whitney’s director in 2003, the third in six years. Two museum board members resigned in the aftermath of controversy, including L. Dennis Kozlowski, who was convicted of looting Tyco of $150 million, and Jean-Marie Messier, who resigned as chief executive of Vivendi Universal because of the company’s poor performance.

    Other museums in Manhattan, meanwhile, have been in the spotlight with successful expansions, like the Museum of Modern Art’s new $858 million building and the New Museum’s current $50 million construction project.

    If expansion is a way for the Whitney to reinvent itself and remain competitive, this recent turnaround, viewed in another light, could be seen as realistic and responsible.

    As museums across the country build additions by celebrity architects, many are now struggling with the larger operating budgets that accompany expansion. The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, for example, recently decided against excavating under its garden courtyard to create new space and will instead pursue a more modest expansion.

    Speaking of the Whitney, Kate D. Levin, the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, said, “It is highly responsible to take stock of whether this is the right step for them, given what they found out about what the building would look like and what it would cost.” At the High Line site, at 820 Washington Street, at Gansevoort Street, the Whitney could establish the downtown outpost that many in the art world have long said the museum should have, a hip, more youthful presence suitable to its mission as the artists’ museum.

    Now the Upper East Siders who vehemently opposed the expansion in their neighborhood are celebrating. In an e-mail message last week to fellow members of the Coalition of Concerned Whitney Neighbors, Edward Klimerman wrote, “Hope springs eternal.”

    Correction: Nov. 1, 2006

    An article in The Arts yesterday about the Whitney Museum of American Art’s pursuit of an alternative to the expansion of its Madison Avenue building referred imprecisely to the logistics behind the Morgan Library’s recent expansion. Construction excavation was carried out within the library’s property; it was not done from the street.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
    Last edited by Kris; November 3rd, 2006 at 12:31 PM.

  8. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by lbjefferies View Post
    Whitney Museum of American Art, after fighting for more than a year to have an addition to its Madison Avenue building approved, has all but decided that moving its expansion to another site would make more sense, people involved in the process say.

    The museum won its struggle to have the city approve a tower designed by the architect Renzo Piano. But after weighing the pros and cons, those familiar with the process say, the Whitney has determined that the Piano project may not get the museum sufficient additional space for the money.
    A Pyrrhic victory.

  9. #54
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    Uptown or Down? The Whitney’s Identity Crisis


    High Line Site For years the Whitney Museum of American Art has planned additions to its Madison Avenue home. Now it may open a site downtown.

    By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF
    Published: November 2, 2006

    When will the Whitney learn its lesson? Over the last two decades the museum has trotted out architectural proposals by Michael Graves, Rem Koolhaas and Renzo Piano for an expansion of its site on Madison Avenue at 75th Street. The designs have ranged wildly, from kitschy to audacious. All have been dumped with little ceremony, the victims of a hostile neighborhood and a fickle board of trustees.


    Office for Metropolitan Architecture
    2004, Renzo Piano


    But only now has the process turned truly comical. The recent admission by the Whitney Museum of American Art that it is considering the addition of a downtown branch instead of proceeding with its on-site expansion effectively sounds the death knell for Mr. Piano’s project just three months after the addition won final approval from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals. After years of stop-and-go plans and public soul searching, the museum is evidently still seeking an identity.

    As strange as it seems, the museum may be better off giving up on the Piano expansion. The Whitney has been worn down by battles with local preservationists, who never wanted any kind of addition on Madison Avenue anyway. A new site with bigger floor plates could give the curators more flexibility for exhibitions. And the city is offering the museum a choice location: a sprawling site in the meatpacking district at the foot of the High Line, an elevated public park that is one of the most intriguing urban projects in Manhattan today.

    Still, the Whitney’s latest about-face points to an underlying malady. Architects are only as good as their clients. They can give conceptual form to an institution’s identity, but they can’t invent it. The Whitney’s endless false starts are a symptom of self-doubt and internal confusion. Unless its board, led by Leonard A. Lauder, is able to muster some courage and conviction, a sudden change in site is not going to fix the problem.

    The Whitney’s argument is simple enough. Adam Weinberg, the museum’s director, says the price tag for the Piano addition, estimated at $200 million-plus, is too high for a building that will only add another 30,000 square feet of gallery space. (The museum’s current 1966 Marcel Breuer building has 32,000 square feet of galleries.) He contends that stacking the galleries on seven floors, with relatively small floor plates, is too confining. At a new site, he hopes, the museum could carve out larger, wide-open galleries on fewer floors.

    But this could hardly be an epiphany. That the galleries in a Madison Avenue addition would have to be stacked in a vertical composition was as true five years ago, when the museum hired Mr. Koolhaas to develop his proposal, as it is today. And the estimated cost for both was virtually the same — $200 million or so — and both designs provided the same 30,000 square feet of new gallery space.

    Through its indecision, the Whitney has squandered a lot of time and money. Maxwell Anderson, the Whitney’s previous director, said the museum spent nearly $6 million in architectural, engineering and legal fees to develop the Koolhaas design. One can safely assume that it has spent far more on its collaboration with Mr. Piano (who is to be retained for whatever project it pursues, the museum says).

    The strangest thing about the Whitney’s various approaches is that they express radically different architectural and curatorial points of view. Mr. Koolhaas’s addition would have been one of the boldest pieces of architecture to emerge in years, while offering a powerful lesson in how to deal responsibly with historical context.

    By accepting existing landmark constraints, including the preservation of a row of brownstones along Madison Avenue, Mr. Koolhaas seemed to imply that past, present and future need not be in violent opposition to one another. Rising in aggressive contortions behind the brownstones, his design seemed to shelter the old granite Breuer building even as it loomed over it like a gigantic cat’s paw.

    Equally important, he used the design to meld a strong curatorial vision. The bulk of the museum’s prewar collections would have been displayed in the late-19th-century brownstones, bigger postwar art in the Breuer building, and contemporary art in a new tower.

    The Whitney dismissed the Koolhaas design as too expensive, though Mr. Piano ultimately would do no better. But the museum’s board clearly didn’t feel comfortable with the design. And when it turned to Mr. Piano, the reasons seemed obvious enough. Less brash as a designer, he is also known for putting clients at ease.

    Unlike Mr. Koolhaas, Mr. Piano is not the kind of architect who will impose a strong vision on a timid board. And his design, which never quite attained the same level of imaginative power, could in some ways could be said to reflect the compromised nature of the institution. In their desire to appease local preservation advocates, museum trustees asked Mr. Piano to make some unwanted compromises, like suggesting he retain a brownstone he hoped to demolish to make way for a more generous public entrance. Most of Mr. Piano’s galleries were big generic boxes stacked one atop the next, more a reflection of the Whitney’s wishy-washy thinking than a clearly articulated position on how to display contemporary art.

    The question now is why we should assume that the museum could do better downtown. The Whitney is considering at least two sites: the one at the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets, and another on 10th Avenue in Chelsea. Both could theoretically yield more exhibition space than a Madison Avenue addition. Of the two, the Gansevoort Street site seems the more likely because of its tantalizing proximity to the High Line.

    Since the site is city owned, it is likely to be far more affordable. And city officials, dismayed by the Dia Art Foundation’s recent decision not to move there, have said they are determined to find a major cultural institution to anchor the High Line.

    Mr. Weinberg and his board have begun to outline the beginnings of a curatorial vision for a new site. He says he wants to avoid turning the Breuer building into a mausoleum, with the permanent collection uptown and contemporary exhibitions downtown. Instead he would like to see a more fluid relationship between the two spaces.

    For his part Mr. Piano, who visited the High Line site in mid-September, says it could be liberating. Gansevoort narrows as it crosses Washington, he said, so the building would be visible several blocks to the east. And its large footprint would allow him to bring more daylight into the galleries.

    But the move raises a raft of obvious questions. How will the two museum buildings relate to each other? What is the Whitney’s curatorial mission? Who is its audience? Is Mr. Piano still the right architect for the job?

    No architect can magically solve a museum’s identity crisis on his or her own. That will take a board with the courage of its convictions, something the Whitney has yet to show us. It’s hard to imagine its getting many more chances.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  10. #55

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    The Whitney Museum Sticks With Renzo Piano
    Renzo Piano was hired to design an addition to New York’s Whitney Museum—but scratch that, now he’s drawing up plans for a satellite museum downtown. Either way, he’s happy.

    WEB EXCLUSIVE
    By Cathleen McGuigan
    Newsweek

    Nov. 2, 2006 - While museums around the country have been opening glamorous additions by star architects, the Whitney Museum of American Art can’t seem to get its act together. In 1985, the museum shelved a high-profile scheme by Michael Graves (the guy most famous today for creating products for Target) to expand its Marcel Breuer-designed museum on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Then in 2003, the trustees cancelled plans for a much-ballyhooed addition by the avant-garde Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (his design was so over the top it was never actually unveiled). So it was a little shocking when word leaked out that the museum may well back out of a third plan for an addition—this one by the brilliant Italian Renzo Piano, whose scheme called for a quietly elegant nine-story tower to join the brooding granite Breuer building via glass bridges. The Whitney had spent more than a year defending the Piano design against neighborhood opposition and finally won zoning approval from the city last summer—though some of the museum’s neighbors then filed a lawsuit to try to block the project.

    A Whitney spokeswoman confirms the museum is now looking into constructing a satellite building in Manhattan’s ultracool downtown meatpacking district rather than expanding on its current tight site, though a final decision hasn’t been taken by the board of trustees. And here’s the good news: this time the Whitney isn’t dumping their architect but inviting him to create the design for a new site. NEWSWEEK’s architecture critic Cathleen McGuigan spoke with Piano about what it’s like to go back to the drawing board.

    NEWSWEEK: How did you find out the Whitney may not build your current design after all the approvals were won?

    Renzo Piano: A short time ago, in September, I was asked, how do you feel you about moving, going somewhere else? So then I went to the possible new site—and this is a beautiful piece of land, down by the meat market, a big open space—between the High Line [an abandoned elevated rail track that is being converted into a parklike esplanade] and the Hudson River. It’s big enough to make something very different, very generous. I like that place, including the meat smell! It’s full of energy. Of course, my first reaction was sad, when you spend a couple years struggling, and dreaming, about a scheme, and finally you may end by not doing it.

    But you were immediately asked to design a new building?

    Yes, yes, that was absolutely clear. Everybody, actually, asked me. I found that very nice, the fact they said that part of the possibility of this depends on your availability to be the architect.

    What’s the reasoning behind considering another site? Is it about escalating costs to build on that difficult site uptown?

    The truth is that, a couple months ago, somebody started to wonder about staying there because, fundamentally we got the permission, but now a group is making legal action again. The atmosphere is so basically hostile, it is like growing flowers in bad earth. It’s incredible. Everybody started to wonder about this atmosphere.

    I still don’t understand all that reaction from the neighborhood—the Whitney is the Whitney, it’s not a commercial building, it’s not speculation. This country and this city are about growth and freedom, so I don’t understand what happened with these objections—I was caught off guard.

    So how are you dealing with such a radical shift in plans?

    I have to accept that in some ways going there actually may be better for the institution. Unfortunately, it was made a bit late. It’s a pity that we didn’t make that decision two years ago, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t matter. Still, if you think about the Whitney Museum—it was founded by Gertrude Whitney in the 1920s as an artists’ club. It was a very open institution for artists to come and stay together, sort of the Salon d’Automne of Paris, that kind of thing. So that was a very refreshing idea, I think if you were an artist you paid $1 to be a member. They moved from the first salon to another headquarters and then finally came up to the new building in the 1960s. In some ways, going back downtown, near the artists and the galleries, is like going back to the origins.

    But is it hard to start over on a whole new design when you’ve reached a final stage with a design you care about so much?

    I’m not able to make a scheme unless I am passionate about it, romantic about the scheme in some way. I became in love with the idea of making the building there [next to the Breuer building], in some way I fall in love, yes, with that specific location, that specific building. My idea of the building was like a meteorite falling in the middle of the city. But I also I fall in love even more with the idea of the Whitney as an institution that grows, with the idea of making a place that is even more open, more transparent, more welcoming. Maybe the specific quality of the Whitney is to be an institution still taking risks today, not working on historically established frozen values.

    Yes, after all, the Whitney Biennial is still the most important show of new art and it is always outrageous.

    Yes, the biennial is mad, and that is part of the story.

    But you’ve spent an enormous amount of money just in your own office doing these plans that now may be tossed aside.

    Money and energy. Money doesn’t matter, we all survived, OK. It’s not about money, it’s about energy and dreams and passion. Anyway, it’s fine, it’s fine—it’s part of our work. I’m not complaining. At the end of the day, I think the Whitney should do the right thing. In some way, what we want to do downtown is better.

    Why?

    There is a much stronger attitude, a much stronger freedom in some way. The site is bigger, so with the same square footage, the building can be lower, we can build bigger floors, that’s for sure, and we don’t have to dig down so deep. The idea of a roof terrace for sculpture—this might be even stronger, even better, there. And there, we may be even more open to the city, because there we have not only the ground floor, the street floor—with entrance on the street level—but the High Line floor, and an entrance on the river side. So you may immediately think about the more complex geometry. So if they decide to go there, to find a more interesting urban site, to be fundamentally much closer to the roots of the institution, it’s not a move back, it’s a move on—it’s positive. I can’t say what I prefer now, I’m very divided. I love the creature we have been dreaming about, and I love the creature that may come up from there. I overall love the idea that they do the right thing for [the] Whitney. So when I was told it may move there, I thought: s--t. And then I said, why not?

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/15534612/site/newsweek/

  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renzo Piano
    The truth is that, a couple months ago, somebody started to wonder about staying there because, fundamentally we got the permission, but now a group is making legal action again. The atmosphere is so basically hostile, it is like growing flowers in bad earth. It’s incredible. Everybody started to wonder about this atmosphere.

    I still don’t understand all that reaction from the neighborhood—the Whitney is the Whitney, it’s not a commercial building, it’s not speculation. This country and this city are about growth and freedom, so I don’t understand what happened with these objections—I was caught off guard.
    Well said, Renzo.

  12. #57

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    They should've built Koolhaas' building. The best part about Renzo's design was how much it ticked off the Nimby's. How a couple dozen small-minded individuals in a neighborhood of tens of thousands can have so much power is beyond me. Publications need to stop giving them press and city planning needs to stop listening to them. Their college degrees should dictate what's appropriate, not community activists.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  13. #58

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    The hostility is understandable.

    Hordes of museum-goers vomiting on the sidewalk.

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    ^ HUH??

  15. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Hordes of museum-goers vomiting on the sidewalk...
    ...to say nothing of pissing on their lawns.

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