Designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Cooper Robertson, the new Whitney Museum of American Art is at the forefront of a profound shift in museum design—from a temple to art to an open and transparent community resource. Innovation in architecture, engineering, construction, technology, and building materials supports this shift. The building’s distinct indoor/outdoor spaces create an unparalleled visitor experience intimately connected to the city around it.
Located on Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, the nine-story building is powerfully asymmetrical. It responds to its low-rise neighbors with a series of terraces linked by outdoor walkways that step back from the adjacent High Line.
The program is organized around an exposed precast-concrete core, with galleries to the south and curatorial and support spaces to the north. The design features 50,000 square feet of bright, double-height galleries overlooking the Hudson River, an education center and research library, art storage and conservation labs, offices and support spaces, a museum shop, a restaurant and informal café, and a 200-seat theater for public programs.
Visitors enter the museum from a public plaza with generous outdoor gathering space and an adjoining restaurant. The glazed lobby, over which the cantilevered mass of the building floats, acts as a decompression chamber between street and museum.
The galleries—on floors five through eight—share consistent armature and transparency but vary slightly in proportion and character. The eighth floor gallery features north-facing saw-tooth skylights, a café, and access to the upper level art terrace with stairs to the galleries and terraces below. The fifth floor gallery, with 18,000 square feet of column-free gallery space, is the largest in New York City.
Both the building’s exterior and interior provide a flexible framework for the display of art. It engages the High Line’s year-round crowds with super-scale works of art mounted on its exterior facades and terraces, as well as through glazed gallery walls.
Adjacent to the Hudson River, the design anticipates the effects of climate change and protects the Museum from storm surges and water level rise with a combination of integrated flood gates, protection at all possible infiltration points, and temporary deployable barricades.
Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Architects of Record: Cooper Robertson
Client: Whitney Museum of American
General Contractor: Turner Construction Company
Structural Engineers: Jaros, Baum & Bolles
MEP Engineers: Jaros, Baum & Bolles
Façade Engineers: Heintges & Associates
Lighting Consultants: Arup
Landscape Architects: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architecture
Landscape Architects: Piet Oudolf