Specific green design details of the new structure are sparse at this point, but Piano is well-known for his brilliant sustainable architecture, like The New York Times building on Eighth Avenue and the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center in the South Pacific. The west side of the museum faces the Hudson River, and the east side abuts the High Line, with the museum’s cantilevered entrance not far from the park’s southern stairs. Piano describes the design, highlighting the dramatic entrance:
The design for the new museum emerges equally from a close study of the Whitney’s needs and from a response to this remarkable site. We wanted to draw on its vitality and at the same time enhance its rich character. The first big gesture, then, is the cantilevered entrance, which transforms the area outside the building into a large, sheltered public space. At this gathering place beneath the High Line, visitors will see through the building entrance and the large windows on the west side to the Hudson River beyond. Here, all at once, you have the water, the park, the powerful industrial structures and the exciting mix of people, brought together and focused by this new building and the experience of art.
Not only is the outdoor space a public plaza, but the entrance from Ganesvoort Street also leads to a free ground floor exhibition space. The third floor of the museum is an 18,000 square foot space for exhibitions, the largest column-free gallery space in New York City. The four levels of outdoor gallery space are located on the setback rooftops of each level that face the High Line. The museum will also house a 170-seat theater with double height windows overlooking the Hudson, an education center with state-of-the-art classrooms, and a research center with a large conservation lab. Plus, the museum will have a restaurant, a bookstore, and a black box theater adjacent to one of the outdoor galleries.
Renzo Piano Building Workshop designed the building in collaboration with New York-based architects Cooper, Robertson & Partners. The museum will be complete and open to the public in 2015. You can take a virtual tour of the new building here.
Images © Renzo Piano Building Workshop