This week the Whitney Museum inaugurated a brand new exhibition and studio space designed by shipping container architects-extraordinaire LOT-EK. The ultra-modern and eco-friendly addition complements the museum's 1960s concrete brutalist construction. It was commissioned by the Whitney as a space where the museum could hold special exhibits and activities for the Whitney education program, which includes art-making classes and informal lectures. To build the Whitney Studio LOT-EK joined six recycled shipping containers into one unique black cube with a dynamic fenestration.
The Whitney Studio shipping containers are stacked to form a two-level structure measuring 20x20x20 feet. The volume is sheared by two fluorescent lime green diagonal planes that create a continuous cut – and visual break in the volume – that runs along the sides of the container up to the roof to create a skylight. The design of the windows also engage the museum’s entrance bridge, its lobby, and its lower level restaurant, allowing visitors to observe the activities going on inside. A stark white interior and plenty of fluorescent light lend to brightening up and opening the studio, which could easily feel compact — particularly as it is sited in a moat below street level, wedged between the lower floor window and a concrete wall.
The modules were modified locally at a New Jersey factory, where they were also painted before being transported to the Whitney. The six pieces were carefully craned into the moat one at a time and then fastened together.
The studio will remain at the 75th and Madison location until the Whitney’s new Renzo Piano designed building opens in the Meat Packing District in 2015.
Photos: Michael DePasquale for Inhabitat