Whitney Museum of American Art breaks ground on its new museum building

25 May 2011

The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, US has broken ground for a $720 million project for construction of its new museum building on Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District.

The building has been designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano in association with New York's architecture firm Cooper, Robertson & Partners. The nine-storey building features a metal body with a series of asymmetrical rooftops for carrying out outdoor exhibits facing the High Line and the Hudson River. The building is designed in such a manner that its upper stories will stretch toward the Hudson River on the western portion while stepping back from the elevated park of the High Line on the eastern part. The structure is almost twice as big as the existing gallery area. The new 50,000 square feet building will feature indoor galleries and rooftop exhibition area spanning 13,000 square feet.

An expansive 18,000 square feet area for holding temporary exhibitions will be featured which is slated to be the largest column-free museum gallery in New York City. Other features of the building will include gallery area for showcasing ground floor exhibits, two floors for exhibiting permanent collection, in addition to about 32,000 square feet top floor space to display works by contemporary artists.

Plans also include creating a cantilevered entrance which will convert the outside of the building into a spacious sheltered public area comprising 8,500 square feet outdoor plaza or largo, and a public gathering space allowing visitors a glimpse of the Hudson River through the entrance to the large windows on the western side.

The facility will incorporate an education centre with modern classrooms, a multi-purpose black box theatre for film, video, and performance with an adjacent outdoor gallery, and a 170-seat theatre providing double-height glimpses of the Hudson River. Further, there will also be a Works on Paper Study Centre, a large art conservation lab, library reading room as well as a retail shop on the ground-floor.

About $508 million funding has already been raised for the project with the building scheduled to open by 2015.