The Whitney Museum of American Art recently announced plans to seek LEED Gold certification for its new Renzo Piano-designed building at the base of the High Line in the Meatpacking District. The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story, all-glass transparent structure will eventually house the Whitney’s entire permanent collection – only 10 percent of which can currently be exhibited at the museum’s 65,000-square-foot, Marcel Breuer-designed Upper East Side location at 75th and Madison. Once completed, the new Whitney will be New York City’s first LEED-certified art museum (joining a number of other LEED-certified museums in New York State, several of which we’ve written about here at gbNYC). Its move into the new building will also be a homecoming of sorts for the Whitney, whose first home in the 1930s was on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village.
Piano’s design is deliberately – and decidedly – asymmetrical, echoing the gritty industrial flavor of the far West Side. The western facade of the building extends towards the Hudson River while the eastern face is a series of setbacks from the elevated High Line. The building’s third floor will boast 18,000 square feet for special exhibitions – the largest column-free gallery space in New York City. 13,000 square feet of outdoor galleries will also grace four levels of rooftop space, while the Whitney’s permanent collection will occupy the building’s 4th and 5th floors. A cantilevered entrance along Gansevoort Street – adjacent to the High Line’s south entrance – will both create a public plaza and lead into free ground-floor exhibition space.
Although specific green design and construction features are unclear at this point, the building itself will also offer a research library, a 170-seat theater, a restaurant, and a bookstore. 70 percent of the funding necessary for the project is already in place; the Whitney expects to break ground next May and finish construction sometime in 2015.
In addition to Mr. Piano, the design team includes Cooper, Robertson & Partners and construction manager Turner.