New York gets a glimpse of the new home for art in downtown Manhattan
Renzo Piano's design for the new Whitney Museum of American Art building in downtown Manhattan was unveiled yesterday. The building will stand six floors tall and cover 185,000 sq ft including more than 50,000 sq ft of gallery space, 15,000 sq ft of outdoor exhibition space and house a state-of-the-art education centre. Located in the Meatpacking District on Gansevoort Street between West Street and High Line Park the second Whitney Museum will be placed in the heart of New York City's most active art and education district.
The new gallery will provide more than double the amount of gallery space than the Whitney 1966 Madison Avenue building and will allow for long-awaited opportunities to showcase the excess of 20th and 21st century American art held by the gallery. Approximately 15,000 square feet of rooftop galleries will be situated on various levels of the building, allowing for outdoor exhibitions.
The centrepiece of the design will be the indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces. The expansive third-floor special exhibition gallery will be approximately 17,500 square feet, one of the largest free-span exhibition spaces in New York. Galleries for the permanent collection on the fourth and fifth floors, and for long-term projects on the top floor, will total approximately 30,000 square feet. The building will also offer dedicated space for a state-of-the-art education facility. A research library; a conservation area; a multi-use space for film, video and the performing arts; a 175-seat theatre; and a study centre will all be included in these facilities.
A public plaza will also be created by a dramatically cantilevered entrance which will shelter the space. The upper stories of the building will spread freely beyond the base, stretching toward the Hudson River on the west side and stepping back from the elevated park of the High Line on the east side. A ground floor exhibition gallery, restaurant, cafe and bookstore will be open to the public free of charge. Whitney hope the new building will engage directly with the bustling community of artists, gallerists, students, educators, entrepreneurs, and residents in Chelsea and Greenwich Village, where the Museum was founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930.
New York City Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Kate D. Levin said: "Renzo Piano's dramatic new design for the downtown Whitney will not only create a new forum for an extraordinary cultural institution, but also enhance the appeal of the High Line for all of the area's residents and visitors.”
The Whitney has announced a fundraising campaign of $680 million to cover the construction and to bolster the Museum's endowment. Construction is projected to begin in Spring 2009 with an anticipated opening in late 2012.
Niki May Young