Meatpacking District, Manhattan
Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Status: Under Construction

Whitney Museum
Image courtesy Whitney Museum/RPBW


Like every Manhattan resident, the Whitney Museum has long griped about the need for more space. In the mid-1980s, the institution unveiled plans for a 10-story Michael Graves'designed addition to its famous Marcel Breuer home, which opened in 1966 on the Upper East Side. The project sparked considerable opposition and was abandoned. Other schemes followed, by Rem Koolhaas and then Renzo Piano, but none stuck.

In May 2010, the museum's board voted to build an entirely new facility, by Piano, in Lower Manhattan's Meatpacking District. It would mark the Italian architect's third completed building in New York, the other two being the Morgan Library & Museum addition (2006) and the New York Times Building (2007).

Piano's signature style ' elegant, subdued, confident ' is evident in renderings for the new Whitney. The asymmetrical glass, steel, and concrete building will rise near the southern entrance of the High Line. The east elevation shows stepped, horizontal volumes that draw back from the elevated park, while the western half consists of a monolithic nine-story block that faces the Hudson River. The street-level entrance will open onto an expansive public plaza.

Exhibition space totaling 63,000 square feet, including outdoor galleries, are planned for the 200,000-square-foot building, giving the museum ample breathing room. Other programming includes an education center, two theaters, and a caf'. Cooper, Robertson & Partners is serving as executive architect.

The groundbreaking took place in May, with demolition of a vacant warehouse beginning in August. The new museum is scheduled to open in 2015, though the institution still needs to raise about $200 million more for the $720 million project. As for the Breuer building uptown, the Metropolitan Museum of Art ' in need of more space itself ' has agreed to lease the facility for at least eight years, starting in 2015.

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