Whitney Designs Revealed

[The view looking north; from left to right, the Hudson River, the West Side Highway, and the Whitney, with the massing concentrated West, stepping down from 170 feet to 50 feet, above the High Line. Courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Cooper, Robertson & Partners.]

Tonight the Whitney made public for the first time its preliminary drawings for a new museum at Gansevoort and Washington Streets, right next to the High Line’s southern terminus in the Meatpacking District.

Whitney Director Adam Weinberg presented Renzo Piano’s plans, calling the new facility a “return to the Whitney’s downtown roots.” The original Whitney was on West 8th Street in the Village, the site of the current Studio School. We might add that its location right on the High Line also creates a nice art context– a literal connection to the galleries of Chelsea.

The new museum will provide 185,000 square feet of space, almost doubling the current floorspace of the Madison Avenue location, and offering an opportunity for the Whitney to showcase its permanent collection. It will also house a block-long special exhibition gallery, a theater and performance space, an indoor-outdoor restaurant, several sculpture terraces, and education facilities integrated into the galleries themselves.

Architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times is optimistic about the direction the design is headed, even going so far as to say that Renzo Piano’s design has “created a contemplative sanctuary where art reasserts its primary place in the cultural hierarchy.”

Logistically speaking, the new Whitney is important to the High Line in another way. Because the site is currently City-owned, it offers a rare opportunity for a much-needed Maintenance and Operations facility for the High Line. The new facility will be part of the easement of the Whitney, and is also being designed by Renzo Piano, but there will be no direct connection between it and the museum proper, and the M&O facility will be autonomously run by the Parks Department. The M&O facility will offer public restrooms, an elevator, and meeting rooms for community groups, as well as a home base for for landscaping, maintenance and security staff and equipment. If all goes according to plan, Friends of the High Line will also have offices there.

Right now, the High Line is scheduled to open 3 to 4 years before the Whitney, so in the meantime, our M&O facility will be a series of trailers on the High Line construction site itself. From what we saw of the Whitney’s plans tonight, though, it will be worth the wait.

Whitney’s Downtown Sanctuary [New York Times]


DIY Night: Get on the FLOR!

[Robert and Meredith might just quit their day jobs]

On Monday night, we were invited to the most exclusive of West Chelsea events: a FLOR-laying party in our new office on 20th Street.

In preparation for our move this weekend from our cramped quarters on 14th Street to our new palatial digs, we covered the bare concrete with squares of the “modern, modular” carpet in a soothing, short-pile gray.

FLOR, which uses no adhesive and is made of recycled materials, is part of our green-office initiative. It’s seriously cool– if only they made squares of wild grasses and shrubs, we’d have this whole High Line thing finished up in a snap.

[Jeff, Danya and Tara find the perfect FLOR-laying rhythm] 

[Rick tests the plushness of our newly FLORed surface]

 

Tiffany & Co. Employees Get the High Line Ready for Spring

Last week, a group of twenty Tiffany & Co. employees removed their jewelry and donned gardening gloves to clean up trash on the rail yards section of the High Line in anticipation of our High Line sketching classes which starts this weekend.  The employees are all part of TIffany ‘s TeamBuilders Manhattan, a group of staffers that get together for volunteer projects and social activities.  Departments from across the company were represented, including the corporate office and the Wall Street and Fifth Avenue retail stores.  The all-female crew broke up into three smaller groups and tackled different sections of the High Line between 30th-34th Street, filling nearly 25 bags with trash in just an hour and a half.  The bags were then removed by a Parks Department sanitation team.

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Amanda Burden Awarded Top Planning Honor

Amanda Burden, Chair of the New York City Planning Commission, has long been a supporter of the High Line– she sheparded through the 2005 West Chelsea Rezoning which allowed its preservation. And excellence and hard work was recognized recently.

On Monday evening at the 2008 National Planning Conference in Las Vegas, Amanda was inducted into the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) College of Fellows. Election to Fellow is one of the highest honors that the AICP bestows upon a member. Induction recognizes planners who’ve made “exceptional contributions to the planning profession.”

And Amanda has certainly made an exceptional contribution: Since her appointment by Mayor Bloomberg in 2002, she has led the largest planning effort in the city since the mid-twentieth century. Transforming visions– such as the High Line– into reality, Amanda is setting the stage for sensible, smart development, reclaiming waterfront and ex-industrial space, designing new parkland and public spaces such as the High Line, and promoting great architecture and urban design in all five boroughs.

Read the APA’s Announcement

Earlier: Awards Sweep for High Line Champion Amanda Burden

 

Tuesday, May 6: Artist Talk With Spencer Finch


[Rendering of Spencer Finch's installation on the HIgh Line inside the Chelsea Market Space.]

Artist Spencer Finch will discuss plans for the public art work he’s mounting on the High Line at a FREE public lecture next week.  The piece, called “The River the Flows Both Ways,” will be installed where the High Line goes through Chelsea Market, and is made of 720 pieces of colored glass based on light conditions Spencer observed on the Hudson River.  It’s set to open along with the rest of Section 1 of the High Line by the end of the year.  Spencer will also be discussing some of his other projects.

Spencer Finch Lecture
Tuesday, May 6
Cedar Lake Theater
547 West 26th Street
(Between 10th and 11th Avenues)
6:30-8:00PM
FREE

RSVP for Spencer’s Talk


[Spencer Finch's "Sunset," (South Texas, 6/21/03), Fluorescent lights, filters.]

 

Movable Chaise Lounge Mock-up Arrives!

[Members of the construction, design, and client teams meet to review the lounge chair mock-up.]

One of the most exciting furniture pieces on the High Line will be movable chaise lounge chairs located at the Sundeck between West 14th and 15th Streets. These lounge chairs will sit on the original rail tracks, mounted on new wooden ties, and can be rolled into place or set with brakes.

Unobstructed views of the Hudson River will make this one of the most desirable areas to visit on the High Line. 

This mock-up arrived last week and is installed near the Gansevoort end.

 

[Detail of wheel sitting on the rail track.]

More photos after the jump.

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Photo of the Week: Summer Sunset

[Click to enlarge]

Summer is just around the corner, or so this 80-degree day would have us believe. Above, sunset at the rail yards, last summer. It’s hard to beat that golden light filtering through the smog over New Jersey.

Last Week’s Photo of the Week

My Favorite Pool – Swimming Pools Part II

This remains my favorite proposal for the reuse of the High Line – a mile long lap pool. Nathalie Rinne, an architecture student in Vienna submitted the plan and as part of our 2003 Ideas Competition.

   

The simplicity of the idea, the singularity of use and the graphic way in which it was conveyed made it the favorite of the jury and one of four winners of the competition.  I think the David Hockney swimmer helped also.

Earlier: Swimming Pools Part I

A High Line Runs Through It

A new addition to what’s being called the “High Line building” at 450 West 14th Street– designed by Morris Adjmi and developed by Charles Blaichman– is one of just a handful of new buildings in the Meatpacking District designed specifically for office space, signaling a new (but certainly not the last) chapter in the High Line’s storied life.

As reported in Greenbuildings NYC, the building will seek LEED certification– the level of which is still unknown.

The redevelopment of the former Cudahy Cold Storage Facility building was the subject of a recent New York Times article by Stacey Stowe.

The new glass addition will sit atop the brick-and-stone, Art-deco facade of the former factory. In its first iteration, the building was completed in 1932 by the same engineers who built the High Line, from the New York Central Railroad. The first of four buildings to accomodate the elevated tracks, it was part of the West Side Improvement Project, created to facilitate the movement of refrigerated meats and other goods along the industrial West Side while lifting trains above street level to eliminate dangerous conditions.

[A photograph of the building before the High Line went through it, around 1932]

[And here's the building after the High Line was built]

Earlier: Photo of the Week: Aerial from 15th Street

Ouroussoff on Truth-Bending Rail Yards Renderings

Yesterday, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussof used Tishman Speyer’s winning rail yards bid as an example of a problematic trend in urban development. He explains that misleading renderings are designed (or censored) to prevent public objection, so projects can slip easily through the public review process. Tishman Speyer, or course, is only one example of this, but when the MTA’s announcement was made, Ouroussoff noticed,

“Basic details like the surrounding context were left incomplete; there were no elevations to show what the project would look like from the street. The largest of the models on display was cut off at mid-elevation, making it virtually impossible to understand the towers’ colossal scale.”

Now You See It, Now You Don’t (NY Times)

Close Reading: The West Side Railyards Project (Interactive Graphic)

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