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

  1. #76
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    It's 820 Washington, which is the plot at the NW corner of Washington / Gansevoort at the southernmost entry point to the HL and which DOB calls a "Warehouse" and includes partial Demo work on the Whitney site just to the west of the HL as was performed last year.

    Full address: 820-830 Washington / 81-93 Gansevoort.

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  2. #77
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stroika View Post

    ... 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."
    Those were to be part of the Piano / Whitney plan for this portion of the site, as was limited direct access to the High Line on an upper level, as is noted in the RFP:

    Vehicular access (for maintenance vehicles) will be provided at both the street and High Line Park levels.
    I'm hoping that they are building the initial stage for the Whitney using a portion of Piano's design.

  3. #78

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    Thanks, Lofter; that was a better description than the one in Curbed!

    Am hoping, like you, that this is still all compatible with the new museum. Given the press, I'd imagine the city will provide some update on this...?

  4. #79

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    Rift in Family as Whitney Plans a Second Home


    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
    The High Line elevated park at the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Streets, the site of a planned downtown Whitney.

    Now an expansion plan that involves building a second museum downtown has opened a rift on the museum’s 45-member board, which includes some of the wealthiest art patrons in New York.
    On one side is the majority that favors the construction project, saying it is integral to the future of a renowned museum with a world-class collection of American art by the likes of Edward Hopper and Alexander Calder. On the other side is a handful of longtime members, including Mr. Lauder, the chairman emeritus, who view the plan as a vanity project the Whitney can ill afford. Also at stake is the fate of the signature building on the Upper East Side, designed by Marcel Breuer and synonymous with the Whitney since it opened, in 1966.

    COMPLETE ARTICLE

    Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

  5. #80
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Artful Way to Expand a Museum

    By ROBERTA SMITH

    To expand downtown or not to expand downtown, this is the nagging, seemingly unanswerable question facing the Whitney Museum of American Art. The museum won’t know the right answer for sure until it tries it; if it doesn’t, it will never know. But it is right in asserting that it must do something to remain viable in what has become a cutthroat competition for museum visitors in New York.

    Its 1966 Marcel Breuer building has all the disadvantages of starchitecture and few if any of the rewards. Even in a country where museums are rarely designed with art in mind, it stands out as relentlessly unforgiving to works of all styles and periods. If the stone floor doesn’t kill, the oppressive overhead concrete structure almost undoubtedly will.

    Unlike the Guggenheim, the Breuer building is not considered a must-see destination by tourists, regardless of what shows are on view. And Breuer’s Brutalist bunker is not getting better with age, or inspiring artists to come up with new, exciting uses for it as Wright’s spiral is. At the same time, the Whitney doesn’t have enough space to have a big chunk of its collection serve as the draw, which is the case at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    So a second site seems like a good idea. But is the lower West Side the way to go? The west end of the meatpacking district is already something of a zoo, like SoHo. Which is to say that tourists are probably as thick there as in any other part of our increasingly Disneyfied city. But are they shoppers or art lovers? And even if they love art, will they pay to see it, when so much is available for free in Chelsea’s many art galleries?

    Attendance at the Dia Center for the Arts, which used to be on West 22nd Street, dropped as the number of neighborhood galleries increased.

    The Whitney doesn’t just need more gallery space, it also needs great or even just good gallery space. This commodity is in short supply in New York these days. The New Museum’s galleries are generally viewed as horribly proportioned and oppressive in their lack of windows. The Modern’s new building is, simply put, one of the great cultural tragedies of 21st-century New York.

    The Whitney’s design for its downtown site is by Renzo Piano, whose track record for museums hasn’t been too great lately. His Broad building at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is SoHo-Chelsea chic times three. His atrium at the Morgan Library and Museum, while beautiful as a space unto itself, is of the event variety; it has diminished, not improved, that museum’s gallery spaces and their layout. And then there is the Art Institute of Chicago, another event-oriented space where art is tucked away. It was definitely a relief to read in The New York Times on Monday, that Mr. Piano’s plans for angled walls at the Whitney’s proposed downtown building had to be eliminated to cut costs on his new design.

    Not to diminish the financial and logistical risks of a venture like this, but New York’s recent museum debacles have taught us that space can justify the means. The success of an undertaking like this hinges not on the size but on the quality of the space, which is never thought about enough and never by the people who really know what they’re doing where museums are concerned. The idea that trustees have the final word on a museum’s design, considering all the atrocious buildings that have been erected in this country, is chilling. When will they ever learn to listen, and to people who have the right experience? They would get better spaces if they would loosen the reins.

    A new downtown Whitney has to make art look good, make people feel good in it, inspire curators to do their best and give the place some kind of identity — a profile — the way Dia’s old building did. Which is to say that it doesn’t have to have tourist-attracting bells and whistles, as is the case with the Guggenheim (no disrespect intended). It just has to give people a breathtaking, vision-expanding experience of art. This is as much a matter of proportion, openness and light as square footage, as the old Dia proved repeatedly. Its spaces set a standard for display that seems to have been lost in Manhattan, and it was lost, again, because of trustee arrogance and administrative mismanagement that put too many of the Dia’s eggs in its Beacon, N.Y., basket.

    Whom should the people in charge of museums listen to? Perhaps to those who have consistently made art look best because they are most directly dependent on it looking best: artists and dealers. A well-chosen committee of such people would probably be able to pare down and improve Mr. Piano’s design even more.

    Here’s a shocking idea: hire Larry Gagosian as a consultant. This could be seen as a more cautious, less desperate version of the move by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in hiring the dealer Jeffrey Deitch as its new director: maybe it’s outside-the-box thinking Manhattan-style. Such an idea might occur to anyone who saw the Gagosian Gallery’s recent exhibition of a mere four sculptures by Alexander Calder, which unfortunately closed on Saturday. It was a heart-stopping, art-loving show that rewired and strengthened both the sense of Calder’s greatness and one’s own personal ability to see art. Affirmations like that keep people coming back.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/ar...er=rss&emc=rss

  6. #81
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Whitney Museum Plans New Building Downtown

    By CAROL VOGEL


    The site near the High Line in the meatpacking district where the Whitney Museum of American Art plans to break ground next year.



    After 25 years of false starts, the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art has taken a step that will redefine the 80-year-old institution. It voted on Tuesday afternoon to begin construction on a building in the meatpacking district in Manhattan, to be completed by 2015, that will vastly increase the size and scope of the museum.

    The vote was unanimous. Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, said after the meeting, “A year from now we will be breaking ground.”

    The board also agreed to sell a group of brownstones adjacent to the museum’s signature Marcel Breuer-designed building on Madison Avenue and East 75th Street, and the museum’s annex building around the corner on 74th Street.

    The sale will effectively end any chance of the Whitney expanding in its current space, where it has been since 1966 and which it has been trying to enlarge since the architect Michael Graves unveiled the first of many expansion plans in 1985.

    Without room to grow uptown, and without the income necessary to run two museums, the Whitney now faces the question of what to do with the Breuer building — which may end up being shared, at least temporarily, by another institution, perhaps the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    The board met not at the museum, as it usually does, but in a conference room at the Standard Hotel on Washington Street, a block and a half from the new site. During the two-hour meeting, Leonard A. Lauder — the Whitney’s chairman emeritus and largest benefactor, and until now an opponent of the project — surprised everyone by voting in favor of the new building. Indeed, although there have been rumors for weeks that Mr. Lauder was considering resigning if the project went ahead, he spoke passionately in favor of it at the meeting.

    “Downtown is a new city, a new nation. Why shouldn’t the Whitney be the museum of record there?” Mr. Lauder said in an interview.

    He cited several reasons for his change of heart. In addition to the board’s having raised more money than was anticipated, and having done it more quickly, he said, “there is no better time to build than now, with construction costs and interest rates at an all-time low.”

    “There is a new generation of people who have come on the board who are not rooted to the past,” Mr. Lauder said. “It would be unfair for someone like me who grew up near the Whitney to believe it should stay there.”

    Still, he is concerned about the Whitney’s financial future. “I have no doubt they can build the museum, but once the surge is over, will they be able to create a new viewership that can sustain it?” he asked.

    Whatever happens, however, Mr. Lauder has gone to great lengths to ensure that the Whitney will not part with the Breuer building anytime soon. In 2008, when he gave the institution $131 million — the biggest donation in its history — the gift came with the stipulation that the building could not be sold for the foreseeable future.

    And that summer, concerned about the financial pressure that maintaining both the uptown museum and a possible downtown one would put on the Whitney, he met for lunch with Philippe de Montebello, then the Met’s director, and broached the subject of a possible partnership. Thomas P. Campbell, Mr. de Montebello’s successor, took up the discussion after he became director.

    Mr. Campbell, in a telephone interview on Tuesday, acknowledged that both boards had approved discussions between their institutions.

    The timing could work particularly well for the Met. The partnership would not take place until the Whitney’s new museum was completed in 2015, at which point the Met could embark on a much-needed renovation of its galleries of modern and contemporary art.

    Having a space to temporarily house those galleries just a few blocks away would be ideal, Mr. Campbell said.

    “No one should take away the notion that we are off-loading our modern or contemporary collections to another site,” Mr. Campbell said. “On the contrary, they are a vital part of a story the Met tells.” He added that a collaboration between the two museums could also result in some exciting institutional cross-pollination.

    Certainly such an alliance would lighten the Whitney’s financial burden. So far the board has raised about $372 million toward the downtown project, which it estimates will cost $680 million, a figure that includes construction and endowment. The sale of the brownstones and the annex building is expected to raise about $100 million more.

    The vote to break ground downtown — and the choice of holding it so close to the planned site — were the latest in a series of moves that have been carefully choreographed by board members who saw the new building as the Whitney’s last chance to grow after so many failed efforts at expansion.

    Last year, the museum signed a contract with the city’s Economic Development Corporation to buy the city-owned site, at the entrance to the High Line, the abandoned elevated railway line that had just been converted into a park. The museum agreed to pay $18 million, about half the appraised value of the property.

    Since then the Whitney has been making nonrefundable monthly payments of $50,000, credited toward the purchase price, to continue until the closing date, which has yet to be determined. The city has allocated $55 million toward the downtown building.

    The Whitney has been struggling with space issues for decades. When it moved to the Breuer building, there were 2,000 works in its collection — a number that has since grown to about 18,000 — but there is only enough room to show about 150 works from its permanent holdings at one time. Many larger works in the collection have never been displayed because of the lack of space.

    After Mr. Graves’s uptown addition fell through, there were other designs, by Rem Koolhaas and Renzo Piano. But each time the effort was abandoned because of the cost or the design or both.

    The downtown Whitney, also by Mr. Piano, will be a six-story, 195,000-square-foot metal-clad building, with a dramatic cantilevered entrance. It will include more than 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of rooftop exhibition space, as well as classrooms, a research library, art conservation labs and a multi-use indoor/outdoor space for film, video and performance art. It will also include a restaurant, cafe and bookstore.

    Most important, in Mr. Weinberg’s view, “it will have one of the largest column-free spaces to show art in New York.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/26/ar...l?ref=nyregion

  7. #82

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    Now that this magnificent project is proceeding, does anyone know what will occur with the absolute POS Gansevoort Market/Interstate Foods that's adjacent to this site?

  8. #83
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    That is a viable business that continues to operate. Being a low rise structure it allows for views to the west. Be careful what you wish for. Or soon the entire west edge of the High Line up to 14th Street will be buffeted by buildings that hem it in.

  9. #84

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    That's a shame. They should move to Hunts Point and raze that eyesore.

  10. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by brianac View Post
    What's planned for the space beneath the Park? In Tokyo it would probably turn into a shopping arcade or market; the structure's already there.

  11. #86
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    That area is one of the few spaces below the High Line tressle that is controlled by NYC Parks / HL. The Whitney / Renzo Piano plan calls for an open plaza / entry to the new museum building in the area just within the fence seen above. At the far end of the fenced in area (above left) will be the new HL Maintenance & Operations building (also Renzo Piano), connected to the HL by a series of bridges; the area facing onto the space below the HL will have a cafe with outdoor tables below the High Line. There will also be another HL elevator added at this location (and bathrooms, too).

  12. #87
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    For Whitney, Downtown Is Its Crucible

    NY TIMES
    By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF
    June 16, 2010

    SLIDE SHOW: The Whitney Expansion

    As expansion efforts go, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s record of futility is hard to match. Over 25 years it commissioned six expansion designs for its Upper East Side site, each of which, good or bad, ran up against a similar fate: killed in infancy by the neighborhood’s notoriously conservative community board or subjected to a drawn-out death by the board’s indecisiveness.

    Then, when the museum finally gave up and decided to erect an entirely new building downtown, one that would become its main home, the global economy went into a tailspin.

    But like other cultural institutions, the Whitney has discovered a silver lining to hard times: even as fund-raising has become more arduous, construction costs have dropped, cutting a big chunk from the new Whitney building’s price tag. That savings helps brings the estimated cost of the project down to under $200 million — and last month helped persuade the board to commit to breaking ground.

    According to Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, the museum has enough money to start building next May, although it needs to raise an additional $215 million to reach its goal of $590 million, most of which would go to the endowment. As the Whitney struggles to contain costs — and get construction underway before prices creep back up — its architect, Renzo Piano, keeps revising his design in response, trimming here, pushing back there.

    Critics don’t normally weigh in at this stage of a design or dwell on the many tricky decisions involved in maintaining the design’s integrity in the face of financial pressures. But in this case those pressures are unusually intense, and the way they are resolved will determine the answer to a question on the minds of everyone who cares about the museum: Will the final result be an experience as good as — or better than — Marcel Breuer’s Whitney?

    Certainly, the downtown site, along the uneven cobblestones of Gansevoort Street in the meatpacking district and next to the Westside Highway, has several things going for it. The land was a bargain, for one, because the city owned it and was willing to sell to the Whitney at half the appraised value; the site was big, for another. (The last proposed expansion to the uptown site, also designed by Mr. Piano, had to be squeezed onto a tiny footprint behind a row of brownstones.)

    Most of all, however, the site offered an escape from a neighborhood whose guardians treat anything out of the ordinary (read brick and brownstone) as an architectural cataclysm.

    Mr. Piano initially responded to the newfound freedom with one of his most sculptural and unusual designs to date. Conceived as a monolithic block, its stone-clad form rested on a glass base enclosing the lobby and a smallish cafe. To the east, the building’s underbelly sloped up in a 35-foot-long cantilever over a small public plaza toward the High Line, the new park built on an abandoned strip of elevated railroad. Further up, the building’s facade stepped back to create a series of outdoor sculpture terraces. The chiseled stone exterior was an obvious homage to Breuer’s 1966 design — whose dark gray granite front presses out over Madison Avenue — an effort, it seemed, to imbue the new seven-story building with the aura of its predecessor.

    The subsequent belt tightening has not necessarily all been bad, judging from models and drawings of the design’s latest iteration that the Whitney agreed to show to The New York Times. The thick stone panels with which Mr. Piano originally envisioned cladding the building, for example, are now beyond the Whitney’s budget, and he is instead leaning toward cream-colored enameled steel plates. The trade-off will diminish the echo of the Breuer building, but it could also give the museum an industrial look more appropriate to its site. (Mr. Piano will need to avoid falling into an obvious metaphor here — the building as ship in dry dock.)

    Other effects are subtler. In developing his design, Mr. Piano has moved the main lobby entry away from the east plaza and the busy entrance of the High Line to a quieter strip along Gansevoort Street, making room for an expanded cafe. This glass-enclosed space, framed by columns on three sides, extends almost to the edge of the building’s sloped underbelly. The addition of the columns could save a few million dollars by all but doing away with the cantilever, which would have required massive structural reinforcement. But the intense feeling of visual compression, so critical to the original design’s power, will be lost.

    As important, expanding the cafe is likely to throw off what until now had been a nice balance between public and private realms, in which the restaurant seemed more clearly subordinate to both the museum and the free, undefined space of the plaza.

    Another element of the design that will be particularly affected by finances is the way people move from the street up to the galleries. The problem with vertical museums — especially in recent decades, as more space has been given over to education departments, curatorial offices, auditoriums and event spaces — is that the distance between the front door and the artworks can get stretched out, making the art seem secondary.

    But shortening that distance can be prohibitively expensive. Mr. Piano said that he never seriously considered putting the auditorium below ground, where it naturally belongs, because of the high cost of digging and waterproofing an extra level deep on landfill so close to the river; instead, it is on the second floor. For the same reason, he has now been forced to move large portions of the mechanical systems up to the second floor from the basement — a change that will save millions more.

    Mr. Piano has created a bank of elevators — one big enough to move artworks, as at the old Whitney — that will shoot up to the galleries, which begin on the fourth floor and extend up three more levels. But however quickly you get there, the psychological distance may still be significant.

    The extraordinarily complex web of issues that the museum must contend with to get the building right are exacerbated by the ticking clock and the fear of having to live down another flop.

    Yet the Whitney’s board may want to consider this as it rushes forward and cuts costs: few institutions’ identities are as closely linked to their buildings as the Whitney’s is to the Breuer. For Mr. Piano’s design to really succeed, it will need to rise at least to the same level as the original building as a place to view art. Anything less will not only be a shame for the city, but a defining emblem of failure for the Whitney.

    Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company
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  13. #88
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    This is such an out of the way location for a museum.

  14. #89

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    Like Intrepid?

  15. #90

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    I think that this is a great location. This is one of the most beautiful areas in the US.

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