Back to the Roots?

Back to the Roots?

Whitney Museum of American Art

A new art museum spread across six floors for the Whitney Museum of American Art by Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

One of New York’s most beautiful buildings can be found along Madison Avenue. Designed by architect Marcel Breuer, the architectural business card of which always was in the shadows of his well-known furniture classics. Nevertheless, when visiting New York, you just have to pay the Whitney Museum of American Art a visit. Apart from the great exhibitions, the terrific brutalist architecture definitely is a highlight, too. 

Art Rules

Evolved from the artist’s workshop, founded in 1908, well-to-do sculptor Gertrude Vanderbuilt Whitney's museum for contemporary American art can fall back today on a stock of more than 10,000 paintings.  It also houses sculptures, drawings, and graphics; which make up the largest collection. Much more than the four exhibition areas could ever display inside Breuer's building. Hence, an expansion was needed – at a modest distance from the main building, but not less prominently planned, which means by Italian star architect Renzo Piano is called in. The road, however, was a bumpy one. During the past 25 years, six designs proposed, but not approved by the neighborhood or the local authorities in charge.  No one was able to make a decision.

Highlight at the High Line

Now a place has been found which seems to be suitable to all who are involved. Not far away from the original workshop, hitherto never displayed pieces of art from the 20th and 21st century are displayed. Spread across an area of seven floors, a first look at the drawings reveal an analogy to the already existing Breuer building. Here, the building from the 1960s protrudes above the street, and Renzo Piano uses a movement in the opposite direction. The floors are pushed back towards the top – leaving room for free areas, in turn allowing sculpture exhibition on a large scale. Only the entrance floor presents itself with a bold projecting gorge, seeming to vacuum visitors inside. An undefined creative in-between zone within urban space right next to the access is adjacent to the recently opened High Line Park.

The addition's shape is characterized by two parameters. On the one hand it’s the requirements the ones in charge of the museum have for an adequate presentation of modern art. On the other hand, it’s a response to the heterogeneous context between the Hudson River, industrial usage, culture, and a rapidly developing quarter of the city. The new museum is no competition for the already existing architectural icon, it is more akin to an upgrade. The largest column-free room in New York, temporary floors for a contemporary artist in residence program, an Education Center for teaching art and the Art Conversation Lab are parts of a new initiative intended to reduce the fear of getting in touch with art. If that works out just half as well as the Breuer building, another expansion is worth a thought.

Project details


Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Executive Architect: Cooper, Robertson & Partners


Foundation stone ceremony: 2011
Completion: 2015


GFA: approx. 15,000 m² exhibition area + 1,200 m² outdoor area / exhibition area


Whitney Museum of American Art, represented by Gardiner & Theobald, Inc.


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admin's picture
admin 24. August 2011 - 20:48


admin's picture
admin 24. August 2011 - 20:57


admin's picture
admin 24. August 2011 - 21:32

it will be Art musium.. but 1st this design is a proof of beauutiful Art...

admin's picture
admin 25. August 2011 - 19:48

Beautiful Design.