The architect of the Whitney’s future home describes the building’s design.
The Whitney is constructing a new building in downtown Manhattan, which will open to the public in 2015. Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, the new building will vastly increase the Whitney’s exhibition and programming space, providing the first comprehensive view of its unsurpassed collection of modern and contemporary American art.
Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the new 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. 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. Additional exhibition space includes a lobby gallery (accessible free of charge), two floors for the permanent collection, and a contemporary artists’ project space on the top floor.
According to Mr. 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 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 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 stunning views of the Hudson River; and a Works on Paper Study Center, Conservation Lab, and Library Reading Room. The classrooms, theater, and study center are all firsts for the Whitney.
A retail shop on the ground-floor level will contribute to the busy 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 , the new restaurant in the Whitney’s current building on the Upper East Side.
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 its west, and step back gracefully from the elevated High Line Park to its east.
The Whitney’s vibrant program of exhibitions and events will continue in its uptown building until late 2014. After the opening of the Whitney’s new building in 2015, the Metropolitan Museum of Art plans to present exhibitions and educational programming at the Whitney’s uptown building for a period of eight years, with the possibility of extending the agreement for a longer term. The two museums will seek to collaborate on collections sharing, publications, and other educational activities.
Owner’s Rep: Gardiner & Theobald, Inc.
Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Executive Architect: Cooper, Robertson & Partners
MEP Engineer: Jaros, Baum & Bolles
Lighting/Daylighting Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates
Construction Manager: Turner Construction, LLC
Renzo Piano was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1937, into a family of builders. In his home city he has strong roots, sentimental and cultural, with its historic center, the port, the sea, and with his father’s trade. During his time at university, the Milan Polytechnic, he worked in the studio of Franco Albini. He graduated in 1964 and then began to work with experimental lightweight structures and basic shelters. Between 1965 and 1970 he traveled extensively in America and Britain. In 1971, he founded the studio Piano & Rogers with Richard Rogers, and together they won the competition for the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the city where he now lives. From the early 70s until the 90s, he collaborated with the engineer Peter Rice, forming Atelier Piano & Rice, between 1977 and 1981. Finally, in 1981, he established Renzo Piano Building Workshop, with a hundred people working in Paris, Genoa, and New York.
The new building will engage the Whitney directly with the bustling community of artists, galleries, educators, entrepreneurs, and residents of the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village, where the Museum was founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930.
The Whitney’s new building will be located in the Meatpacking District on Gansevoort Street at the southern entrance to the High Line.
The Meatpacking District is a twenty-square-block neighborhood on the far West Side of Manhattan. Surrounding the meatpacking plants just north of Gansevoort Street are some of New York’s most notable restaurants, bars, fashion boutiques, clubs, and hotels. The neighborhood is bordered to the north and east by Chelsea, renowned for its art galleries, cultural organizations, and educational institutions. To the south is the West Village and its nineteenth-century townhouses, charming streets, and unique shops. To the west is the Hudson River.
The High Line is New York City’s newest and most unique public park. Located thirty feet above street level on a 1930s freight railway, the High Line runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street in Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. It features an integrated landscape combining meandering concrete pathways with naturalistic plantings. Section one, from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, opened in June 2009; the second section opened in June 2011.
November 4, 2013
The Museum launches Whitney Stories, a video series and online publication presenting a look behind the scenes at preparations for the new building.
60- and 30-foot steel panels constituting the building’s facade are hoisted into place.
Windows are installed in the gallery spaces.
June 6, 2013
The Whitney announces a permanent installation commissioned for the the new building: four elevators designed by the late artist Richard Artschwager.
March 14, 2013
Installation of the building’s exterior walls begins.
April 7, 2013
Artists tour the new building site with Whitney director Adam Weinberg and chief curator and deputy director for programs Donna De Salvo.
January 23, 2013
The Museum presents a project update to the Arts & Institutions Committee of Community Board 2.
December 17, 2012
September 24, 2012
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November 27, 2011
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December 20, 2010
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The campaign for the Future Whitney goes far beyond the creation of a new museum facility that will showcase and safeguard the Museum’s irreplaceable collection. It is an investment in future generations of artists and the growing audiences who will engage with their work.
The campaign commenced quietly in January 2007 with extraordinary support from the Board of Trustees. The American Art Foundation, under President Leonard A. Lauder, launched the campaign with a transformational leadership gift of $125 million for endowment, helping to secure our future operations in the Museum downtown. The City of New York, whose partnership and commitment made it possible to purchase the land for the Museum, has also appropriated funds for the construction of the new building. The State of New York provided significant and early support of the architectural design. The campaign’s success to date is also the result of the many individuals who have been so generous with their early support. With this extraordinary leadership start, the Museum broke ground on May 24, 2011 and began the transformation of the Whitney, and of the downtown cultural scene.
A project of this scale succeeds only when each of us does their part. Each gift brings us closer to realizing the Future Whitney—a museum committed to art, artists, and audiences in dynamic interaction. This is an opportunity that comes but once in a generation. Please join in transforming one of our nation’s great museums and be a part of shaping the future of contemporary art in New York.
$516 million through fundraising
$95 million through the sale of real estate assets on Madison Avenue
New Building Project Costs ($422 million)
Within over 200,000 square feet, the Museum will increase its gallery space by 60% and triple its total space; scheduled completion: 2015.
Endowment ($225 million)
Increasing the endowment is critical to securing the financial foundation of the Whitney’s future home.
Capacity-Building ($113 million)
Providing support to ensure dynamic artistic and educational programming is essential while building the Museum downtown.
The Whitney is tremendously grateful to its donors, whose support will ensure the successful completion of the campaign and building project and help maintain the vitality, renown, and success of the Whitney as the defining museum of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American art for generations to come.
For more information about the campaign and donor opportunities, please contact:
Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021
Unfolding over the next two years, the Whitney Stories video series provides a look behind the scenes as the Museum prepares to move to its new building in the Meatpacking District in 2015. The fifteen-part series directed by New York-based filmmaker Matt Wolf sheds light on the Whitney’s plans for the future through conversations with artists, builders, and members of the Whitney staff.
Architect Renzo Piano designed the Whitney Museum’s future home, which will open to the public in 2015. In this Whitney Stories video, Piano articulates the philosophy behind the building’s design and describes the experiences offered by its spaces, from its expansive galleries to its city-facing terraces.
The following videos document the Whitney’s new building as it continues to change during the building process.
The exterior façade of the future Whitney Museum is composed of enormous steel panels, which are hoisted into place using a custom-built machine. In this video, Kevin Schorn, Architect at Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and Christian Reek, Project Manager for Permasteelisa North America, discuss the installation process.
The following videos were created to commemorate and document groundbreaking on the Whitney’s new building. The Museum hosted a neighborhood Community Day celebration in May of 2011 to introduce local residents to the project and welcome them to visit the future Whitney.
Follow the progress of our new building in real time by watching our web camera, which documents the construction of the Whitney’s new home with an updated image every fifteen minutes.
To zoom: click the – and + buttons. There are also four preset views you can click on below the control panel.
To pan left/right or up/down: use the virtual joystick or click and hold your mouse over the image.
To access past images: Either use the calendar or slide the bar directly below the image. All photos are archived, so you can see any image by date/time going back to Sept 30, 2011.
To share an image: You can email, download, and print images by clicking the “share image” icons beneath the viewer.
Please note that Adobe Flash is required to view the camera.