If you had the chance to head to the corner of Gansevoort and Washington streets in New York this morning, you were probably part of a moment in architectural history. The site, part of the Meatpacking district and adjacent to the southern entrance to the High Line, is soon going to host the Whitney Museum extension building, which, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, just broke ground.
The groundbreaking ceremony marks the start of works on the 200,000sq ft facility for the Museum, which will include extra space for collection, exhibitions, and education and performing arts programs as well as several more facilities, like a research library, a 170-seat theatre, a restaurant, café and bookstore.
The Pritzker Prize-winner’s asymmetrical design will have a strong presence when finished. Sculptural and modern, it will also reflect the area’s industrial character, while being set back unobtrusively from the High Line’s park. A cantilevered entrance on Gansevoort Street will create a dramatic public plaza that can also be used for art display. Upon completion, the new special exhibition gallery will be the largest column-free museum gallery space in New York City. Further outdoor exhibition space will be provided on four different rooftop levels.
The new building will include 50,000 sq ft of indoor galleries and 13,000 sq ft of rooftop exhibition space, offering considerable breathing space to the original Madison Avenue Whitney’s collection and temporary shows, as well as connecting strongly with the area; after all the museum was founded at nearby Greenwich Village, by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930.
Planned to be ready for the public in 2015, the new building will without a doubt be a valuable sibling to the original iconic 1966 Marcel Breuer-designed Whitney building on Madison Avenue. In the meantime, a series of performance and public art events will take place throughout the week.