WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
Opening Spring, 2015
According to architect Renzo Piano, “The design for the new museum emerges equally from a close study of the Whitney’s needs and from a response to this remarkable site. We wanted to draw on its vitality and at the same time enhance its rich character. The first big gesture, then, is the cantilevered entrance, which transforms the area outside the building into a large, sheltered public space. At this gathering place beneath the High Line, visitors will see through the building entrance and the large windows on the west side to the Hudson River beyond. Here, all at once, you have the water, the park, the powerful industrial structures and the exciting mix of people, brought together and focused by this new building and the experience of art.”
The new Whitney building will include more than 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space on a series of rooftops facing the High Line, providing long-awaited opportunities to show more of the Whitney’s collection in tandem with temporary exhibitions.
The collection has grown from about 2,000 works at the time of the building’s opening, in 1966, to more than 19,000 works today. An expansive gallery for temporary exhibitions will be approximately 18,000 square feet in area, making it the largest column-free museum gallery in New York City. Gallery space for ground-floor exhibitions (accessible free of charge), two floors for the permanent collection, and contemporary artists’ projects on the top floor will total approximately 32,000 square feet.
The dramatically cantilevered entrance along Gansevoort Street will shelter an 8,500-square-foot outdoor plaza or “largo,” a public gathering space steps away from the southern entrance to the High Line. The new building will engage the Whitney directly with the bustling community of artists, gallerists, students, educators, entrepreneurs, and residents in the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village, where the Museum was founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930.
The building also will include an Education Center offering dedicated space for state-of-the-art classrooms; a multi-use black box theater for film, video, and performance with an adjacent outdoor gallery; a 170-seat theater with double-height views of the Hudson River; and a Works on Paper Study Center, large art Conservation Lab, and Library Reading Room. The classrooms, theater, and study center are all firsts for the Whitney. As well, a retail shop on the ground-floor level will contribute to the vibrant street life of the area. A ground-floor restaurant and top-floor café will be conceived and operated by renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group, which recently opened Untitled, the new restaurant in the Whitney at 945 Madison Avenue.
Mr. Piano’s design takes a strong and strikingly asymmetrical form—one that responds to the industrial character of the neighboring loft buildings and overhead railway while asserting a contemporary, sculptural presence. The upper stories of the building will stretch toward the Hudson River on the west side and step back gracefully from the elevated park of the High Line on the east side.
The building is projected to open to the public in 2015.
When the Whitney Museum’s new Renzo Piano-designed home on Gansevoort Street opens its doors in the spring of 2015, the inaugural installation will be the largest and most comprehensive display to date of the Whitney’s unparalleled permanent collection of 20th and 21st century American art.
This ambitious display will offer new perspectives on art in the United States since 1900, following the Whitney’s in-depth analysis of its collection of more than 21,000 works, an initiative that has been underway since 2012. The opening presentation will fill over 60,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibition space, utilizing all galleries in the building, and it will celebrate the Whitney’s extraordinary new home and the richness of American art. The sweep of the collection is echoed in the building’s magnificent multiple perspectives: the future Whitney looks south toward the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, east into the city, and west across the Hudson toward the expanse of the country.
Project Team Owner’s Rep: Gardiner & Theobald, Inc.
Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Executive Architect: Cooper, Robertson & Partners
MEP & Lighting Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates
Construction Manager: Turner Construction, LLC