Work on new Whitney museum nears completion

by Kim Megson | 05 Nov 2014

Renzo Piano’s dramatic new building for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York’s Meatpacking District has entered the final phase of construction, with work set to be completed in time for its long-scheduled opening in Spring 2015.

The museum - founded by American socialite Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1931 - is moving from its old Madison Avenue property to the significantly larger new building in order to display more of its collection of over 21,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs and films. Work on the US$720m (£436.5m), 200,000sq ft (18,581sq m) edifice began in 2010.

Piano’s six-storey steel and stone building is asymmetrical, with a stepped roof at the back. The design is a contemporary response to the industrial nature of the neighbouring buildings and the abandoned overhead railway that forms the High Line. Inside, over 50,000sq ft (4,650sq m) of gallery space will host temporary and permanent exhibitions.

Other facilities incorporated into the design include an education centre, theatre, reading room and gift shops. A ground-floor restaurant and top-floor cafe will be operated by New York restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Visitors will also be able to enjoy 13,000sq ft (1,210sq m) of outdoor exhibition areas, with views of the High Line and the Hudson River from the rooftop terraces.

Explaining his vision, Piano said: “The design 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. 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 museum’s inaugural exhibition will explore American art since 1900, with thousands of pieces to be displayed in every gallery.

The development forms part of Manhattan’s ongoing public-private regeneration. To help finance the relocation, the Whitney’s old home will be occupied and funded by the Metropolitan Museum of Art until at least 2023.

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Whitney Museum to construct new building

Renzo Piano’s dramatic new building for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York’s Meatpacking District has entered the final phase of construction, with work set to be completed in time for its long-scheduled opening in Spring 2015. The museum - founded by American socialite Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1931 - is moving from its old Madison Avenue property to the significantly larger new building in order to display
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A view of Renzo Piano's new Whitney museum building, which will open to the public in Spring 2015 / Tim Schenck
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