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

  1. #61
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    Is that a (back-handed) swipe at college students?

  2. #62
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Whitney’s Expansion Plans Are Shifting South,
    to the Meatpacking District
    November 28, 2006

    A month after the Dia Art Foundation scrapped its plans to open a museum at the entrance to the High Line, the abandoned elevated railway line that the city is transforming into a public park, the Whitney Museum of American Art has signed on to take its place and build a satellite institution of its own downtown.

    The Whitney recently reached a conditional agreement on Wednesday night with the city’s Economic Development Corporation to buy the city-owned site, at Washington and West Streets in the meatpacking district, officials at the museum said yesterday. Plans call for the new museum to be at least twice the size of the Whitney’s home on Madison Avenue at 75th Street, they said, and to be finished within the next five years.

    The New York Times
    Whitney Museum is planning
    a branch at the High Line park.

    The deal, which has still to go through a public review process before it is final, puts an end to the Whitney’s plan to for a nine-story addition by the architect Renzo Piano that would connect to the museum’s original 1966 Marcel Breuer building via a series of glass bridges. It will be the third time in 11 years that the museum has commissioned a celebrity architect to design a major expansion to its landmark building, only to pull out.

    “This is a more prudent step to take,” Leonard A. Lauder, chairman of the Whitney’s board, said by telephone yesterday. “Yet it is an adventurous step. We think the new site will have a big enough impact so that it will become a destination.”

    The museum’s director, Adam D. Weinberg, said the new museum would not only offer more gallery space but would also be less expensive. “We know it will be cheaper per square foot than uptown, but we don’t know what it will cost,” he said. (The uptown expansion was expected to cost more than $200 million.) Mr. Piano has agreed to design the new museum. Although no architectural plans have been drawn up, the future museum is loosely estimated to afford at least 200,000 square feet.

    Kate D. Levin, the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, called the agreement “a wonderful moment” but cautioned, “It is a preliminary moment.” If all goes as planned, she said, “it will let a museum grow and flourish” as well as provide an anchor to the city’s High Line project.

    In addition to attracting a broader audience, having a site downtown will allow the museum space to build larger galleries without the constraints of building in a historic district. Sweeping galleries are generally needed to show much of the latest art being produced today.

    Compared with around 65,000 square feet of gallery space in the uptown Piano addition, the High Line site will have about 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of gallery space, Mr. Weinberg said. The current Breuer building has some 30,000 square feet.

    Mr. Lauder said: “The key word here is footprint. We will be able to stage shows horizontally rather than vertically.” Previous uptown expansions jettisoned by the Whitney include a $37 million addition by Michael Graves canceled in 1985 and a $200 million design by Rem Koolhaas scrapped in 2003.

    Mr. Piano’s project met with heated opposition from preservationists who objected to the elimination of brownstone facades on Madison Avenue, part of the Upper East Side Historic District. After the Whitney agreed to maintain that facade, the project was approved in July by the city’s Board of Standards.

    In addition to a second site the Whitney is also planning to upgrade the Breuer building significantly, with improvements like new, double-glazed windows and a better climate control system, Mr. Lauder said.

    “The Breuer building is now 40 years old, and a lot of technology has happened since it was built,” Mr. Lauder said. “It is our iconic building, and we are planning to put a lot of money into it.” While he said it was too early to say just how much “a lot” is, he estimated the cost of refurbishing the building at $20 million to $40 million.

    While taking note of the creation of dual-site museums like the Tate in London and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Mr. Weinberg said the Whitney was hoping to invent a model of its own. “We are envisioning both sites will show contemporary and historic art,” he said.

    The Whitney will continue to devote itself to American art, he said, but “it will be American art in the broadest sense seen within an international context.” In addition to providing room to spread out, he added, the downtown space will allow the museum to keep adding to its collection.

    Mr. Weinberg said the museum intended to strengthen its performing arts, education and film programs, which will all be based downtown.

    While Dia had planned to lease the downtown site from the city, the Whitney’s deal calls for buying 820 Washington Street and 555 West Street, abandoned shell structures adjacent to each another. The city will charge the Whitney roughly half the appraised value of the two buildings, said Jan Rothschild, a spokeswoman for the Whitney.

    “We like the character and the grittiness of the neighborhood,” Mr. Weinberg said of the meatpacking district. “We want to keep the museum as low as possible.” Plans call for about 15,000 square feet of meat market space as well as offices for the High Line in the complex.

    Rather than dwell on the death blow to the Piano addition, Whitney officials sought to portray the move as a homecoming of sorts. The institution, which began in Greenwich Village in 1918 as the Whitney Studio Club, became the Whitney Museum in 1931.

    “We’re returning to our roots,” Mr. Weinberg said. “So much of the first half of our collection was made around 14th Street and below, and so many artists whose works we have live within a 20-block radius. We see this as reconnecting with the artists’ community.”

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  3. #63

    Default Whitney’s Downtown Sanctuary

    Whitney’s Downtown Sanctuary
    Published: May 1, 2008

    Optimism is in the air again at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has just released a preliminary design by the Italian architect Renzo Piano for its proposed satellite museum downtown.

    For more than 20 years the Whitney has been unveiling sunny expansion plans for its Marcel Breuer home on Madison Avenue, only to have them crash against the reality of neighborhood politics. With its decision to build a second museum in the meatpacking district, the Whitney seems to have found its bearings.

    Mr. Piano’s project for a site on Gansevoort Street, west of Washington Street, is a striking departure from the ethereal glass creations that have made him a favorite of the art-world cognoscenti. Its bold chiseled form won’t appeal to those who prefer architecture to be unobtrusive.

    Rising among the derelict warehouses and hip boutiques of the rapidly changing neighborhood, the museum’s monumental exterior forms are conceived as a barrier against the area’s increasingly amusement-park atmosphere. It makes a powerful statement about the encroaching effects of the global consumer society. Inside, Mr. Piano has created a contemplative sanctuary where art reasserts its primary place in the cultural hierarchy.

    The feat is especially impressive given the obstacles Mr. Piano and the Whitney have overcome. After they spent years refining a proposed addition to the Breuer building, the museum abandoned that plan in 2006 (the third time that the museum had pulled out after commissioning a noted architect to design a major expansion). Then the idea of a satellite downtown raised concerns that the Whitney would abandon its Breuer building or that it could not afford to run two museums.

    In a recent interview Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, said the curators had yet to define the relationship between the two buildings.

    (One possibility is that the Breuer building will be used for exhibitions that focus on one aspect of the collection or a single artist, with the core of the collection relocated downtown.)

    Mr. Piano’s design is certainly distinct from Breuer’s, presenting a strange, even forbidding aura. The building’s faceted surface seems hewed from a massive block of stone. Its main facade is slightly angled to make room for a small public plaza. The roof steps down in a series of big terraces on one side; on the other, it forms an impenetrable block facing the West Side Highway.

    But as you study the form more intently, more layered meanings emerge.

    The stepped roof, for example, both supports a series of outdoor sculpture gardens and allows sunlight to spill down onto the High Line, the elevated rail bed that is being converted into a public garden. The angle of the facade allows people walking along the High Line to catch glimpses of the Hudson River down Gansevoort Street.

    The feeling of a structure being carved apart to facilitate the flow of light and movement is magnified at ground level. Part of the structure rests on a glass base that houses a bookstore and cafe, so that you feel the full weight of the building bearing down. The underbelly of the building tilts up at one end, providing shade for the plaza and adding a sense of compression as you approach the entry.

    This experience abruptly changes as you cross the threshold, for a window at the back of the lobby opens onto a view of the water and the height of the lobby space suddenly lets you breathe again. From there elevators whisk you up to the auditorium, library and galleries.

    The new museum will have 50,000 square feet of gallery space, compared with 32,000 uptown. The third-floor gallery, at 17,500 square feet, will be the largest column-free space for viewing art in Manhattan, Mr. Weinberg said.

    Mr. Piano plans to use a weblike structure of delicate steel, glass and fabric scrims for the roof on the top-floor gallery: the kind of intricate lighting system he has created before, in projects like the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. Because the galleries are on multiple levels, visitors can experience the drama of climbing from darkness into light as they proceed through the floors.

    The contrast between the muscularity of the exterior and the refinement of the interior brings to mind other recent designs, including Rem Koolhaas’s Casa da Musica in Porto, Portugal, and Rafael Moneo’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Each of these projects offer an enclave conceived as a refuge from the world outside.

    But in this case Mr. Piano is also offering a gentle critique of Breuer’s fortresslike vision for the Whitney. Like Breuer’s 1966 design, Mr. Piano’s building is a temple to culture; but here the relationship between inside and out — high art and the marketplace — is more fluid.

    The design is preliminary, and needs more work. The weblike roof system, for example, is nothing more than a concept at this point. Mr. Piano is toying with the notion of bringing daylight into the lower-floor galleries — as the Sanaa design did for the recently opened New Museum on the Bowery — which is possible here because of the terraced roof.

    Just as important to the outcome of the design, however, is Mr. Piano’s approach to New York’s evolving cultural scene. He and Mr. Weinberg refer to the downtown site as a return to the museum’s roots, because Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s original museum opened on West Eighth Street. But unlike 1930s Greenwich Village, the meatpacking district is more shopping mall than vibrant art scene. So one of Mr. Piano’s most delicate tasks will be to balance a spirit of openness with an instinct for self-preservation.

    He has wisely decided not to link the building directly to the High Line, forcing visitors to climb down to street level before entering the museum across the plaza. Yet other key issues are less resolved. The building’s chiseled aesthetic could be pushed a bit further, becoming more animated. The relationship between the lobby and the upper floors is still clunky.

    And there is the issue of material. At a meeting last month Mr. Piano, who often uses the metaphor of a ship in dry dock when talking about the satellite museum, said he was leaning toward a steel frame structure covered in welded steel plates, an idea that may be a holdover from his abandoned design for the uptown expansion. But the massive form of the downtown design suggests a building drawn from a single block rather than one built of individual structural pieces.

    That image would probably be strengthened by cladding the building in a stone compound. A concrete exterior could also form a psychological bridge between the new museum and the Breuer building, making a trip downtown feel more like a homecoming.

    Mr. Piano certainly has the skill to resolve these issues. Meanwhile he has laid the groundwork for a serious work of architecture. The bold form expresses a level of experimental courage that he hasn’t shown in years. It represents his willingness to move forward without betraying his faith in historical continuity. This is a building that could revive the Whitney, and inject welcome creative energy into the city’s cultural life.

    Pictures for the Design

    Copyright 2008 New York Times Company

  4. #64


    Hmm... looks pretty good to me.

  5. #65


    Has demolition started at this site, and is this building under construction? Alternatively, is this a pipe dream that will require fundraising for the next 20 years?

  6. #66


    I thought this was killed months ago for lack of funds.

  7. #67

  8. #68


    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    The Madison Ave expansion was cancelled.
    So what's going on with this one? Has demolition started?

  9. #69


    Whitney MePa Already Off and Running

    Friday, October 10, 2008, by Joey

    Global economic collapse be damned, the Meatpacking District will gets its fancy new starchitect-designed art museum. The Villager reports that the new branch of the Whitney Museum won City Council approval, which was never really in doubt. So confident were the Whitney folks, in fact, that demolition has already begun on the former meatpacking plant at 820 Washington Street that currently stands in the way of Renzo Piano's art bunker at the southern foot of the High Line. Here's what the building looked like from the High Line. The 170-foot-tall museum, which will also have space for High Line maintenance and operations facilities, is expected to open in 2012, as long as you remember to tip your curator.

    Copyright © 2008 Curbed

  10. #70



  11. #71
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Whitney Museum is still on track for 2012 opening

    By Albert Amateau

    A rendering of the design for the new Downtown Whitney Museum of American Art on Gansevoort St., viewed from the south. The High Line park is at right.

    The Whitney Museum of American Art’s proposed Downtown branch, designed by Renzo Piano, to be built at the south end of the High Line park on Gansevoort St., was assured last month when Mayor Bloomberg confirmed that part of a city-owned Meat Market site would be sold to the Whitney.

    The mayor made the announcement on June 8 at the official opening of the first segment of the High Line park between Gansevoort and 20th Sts.

    A spokesperson for the city’s Economic Development Corporation said last week that the agency was finalizing the contract that will allow the world-famous Whitney to build on the 43,000-square-foot site on Gansevoort St. between West St. and the High Line. The agreement also allows meat wholesale firms to continue doing business in the commercial co-op building that occupies the north part of the city-owned property.

    A spokesperson for the Whitney was unable to say last week when construction would begin, but he did say he was confident that the new museum would hit the 2012 target completion date.

    The City Planning Commission earlier this year approved the project after the city’s 10-month uniform land use review procedure, known as ULURP. Because the Downtown Whitney and the Meat Market co-op, plus the southern end of the High Line, are in the same development block, three easements tailored to the architecture of the museum and the meat co-op building were needed to define the size and configuration of possible future development on the rest of the 102,000-square-foot property.

    And because the site is in a manufacturing zone, which does not allow museums or art galleries, the Whitney had to obtain a special permit for the project.

    The Renzo Piano-designed building will step down in three stages from 175 feet on West St. to 50 feet at a five-story High Line maintenance building by Washington St. to be built at the same time as the museum by the Department of Parks and Recreation. The maintenance building will be connected to the High Line but will be separate from the museum.

    The three setbacks will provide terraces with a total of 15,000 square feet of outdoor gallery and event space.

    The Downtown Whitney’s largest gallery will be on the third floor with 17,000 square feet of column-free space. The museum’s permanent collection will be on the fourth and fifth floors, and the top floor will accommodate long-term exhibits. The new Whitney will also have a 175-seat theater, a study center and space for the museum’s 35 education programs. The Whitney, which has a relationship with the Hudson Guild in Chelsea, is commited to reaching out to Village and Chelsea schools for joint education projects.

    The museum’s cantilevered main entrance on Gansevoort St. between West and Washington Sts. will shelter a public plaza and lead to an expanded lobby that will serve as a free public space and which could double as a performance area.

    Robert Hammond, co-founder with Joshua David of Friends of the High Line, said last week that the Whitney will be a perfect partner for the elevated park.

    “The High Line goes over Chelsea, the home of the city’s largest collection of art galleries. And now the Whitney, with the greatest hits of American art, will be at the base of the High Line on Gansevoort St.,” he said. “It’s really important that the design has a large public plaza at the southeast side allowing light and air onto the High Line.”

  12. #72


    I'm not liking what I have seen of this design. Looks very bulky and not particularly interesting.

  13. #73
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Looks like this is DEAD:

    High Line Gives Up Waiting on the Whitney

    To be replaced by NYC Parks structure ...


    New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is seeking a consultant or consultant team to provide construction management services, which shall include pre-construction, construction, and post-construction services for the High Line Maintenance and Operations Facility (M&O Facility) project. The M&O Facility will be designed as a 4-level facility in northeast corner of a portion of the former 820 Washington Street site where it will have immediate access to the High Line. The facility will house Friends of the High Line and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation staff, equipment, and materials for the High Line’s maintenance and operations. The M&O Facility will provide a transfer point for landscape waste materials that are removed from the High Line as part of daily operations. Vehicular access (for maintenance vehicles) will be provided at both the street and High Line Park levels. In addition, public amenities, including restrooms, a café, security/information and first aid facilities, will be housed within the M&O Facility.
    Any chance that they are building a portion of the Piano plan?

  14. #74


    I'm confused. Do we know for sure it's the Whitney site? They'd been trying to get various museums there for so long (like the Dia previously) that it seems odd they'd just turn it over for landscaping tools storage.

    Neither the press release nor the DNAinfo article mention that this is the Whitney site. Only Curbed says that, and the way they make this claim strikes me as very awkward:

    "The museum is still a question mark. The city isn't taking any chances. DNAinfo reports that the bidding process is underway for construction of a $20 million four-story maintenance and operations facility that will be built on the northeast corner of the site (completion is set for 2013). The smallish structure, which will also have public restrooms and maybe a café, will still have a footprint of 5,000 square feet."

    But again, DNAinfo never mentioned the Whitney, and this seems to be occupying only a smaller portion of the larger lot anyway. Could it be that Curbed was inferring a little too much?

  15. #75


    You may be right. The footprint of the proposed building is about 25% of the site area.

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