The Building

Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, the Whitney's building in the Meatpacking District vastly increases the Museum’s exhibition and programming space, offering the most expansive display ever of its unsurpassed collection of modern and contemporary American art.

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the Whitney's building in the Meatpacking District includes approximately 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space and terraces facing the High Line. An expansive gallery for special exhibitions is 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 special exhibitions gallery 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 shelters 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 includes an education center offering 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 contributes to the busy street life of the area. A ground-floor restaurant and top-floor cafe are operated by renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group.

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 overlook the Hudson River on its west, and step back gracefully from the elevated High Line Park to its east.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is presenting 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.

project team

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
Landscape Architect: Mathews Nielsen

About renzo piano

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 neighborhood

The building engages 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 new Whitney is located in the Meatpacking District at 99 Gansevoort Street, at the southern entrance to the High Line.

The meatpacking district

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

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.

The Whitney has one of the most expansive member discount programs of any museum in New York City.

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Support the new whitney

The campaign for the new Whitney goes far beyond the creation of a new museum facility that showcases and safeguards 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, 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 new 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.


$665 million through fundraising
$95 million through the sale of real estate assets on Madison Avenue

Fundraising goals

New Building Project Costs ($422 million)
Within over 200,000 square feet, the Museum has increased its gallery space by 60% and tripled its total space.

Endowment ($225 million)
Increasing the endowment is critical to securing the financial foundation of the Whitney’s new home.

Capacity-Building ($113 million)
Providing support to ensure dynamic artistic and educational programming is essential while building the Museum downtown.

Ways to give

The Whitney is tremendously grateful to its donors, whose support will 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
Campaign Office

99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 671-1842

whitney stories: Donna De Salvo

Whitney stories: Renzo Piano