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The Breuer Building

The Whitney Museum of American Art owes its striking granite presence at the southeast corner of Madison Avenue and 75th Street to the Hungarian-born, Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer (1902–1981). To design a third home for the Museum—which had gradually migrated northward from its original location on West Eighth Street to West 54th Street—Breuer worked with Hamilton Smith, creating a strong modernist statement in a neighborhood of traditional limestone, brownstone, and brick row houses and postwar apartment buildings. Considered somber, heavy, and even brutal at the time of its completion in 1966 (“an inverted Babylonian ziggurat,” according to one critic), Breuer’s building is now recognized as daring, strong, and innovative. It has come to be regarded as one of New York City’s most notable buildings and identified with the Whitney’s approach to art.

Lobby of  the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. Architect: Marcel Breuer. Photograph by Ezra Stoller. © Ezra Stoller / Esto
Photograph © Jeff Goldberg/Esto
Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY; Architect: Marcel Breuer and Hamilton Smith (1963–1966). Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson