The new 220,000-sq-ft Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort St. in Manhattan’s meatpacking district, downtown from its previous location on the Upper East Side. The museum, a six-story building with two additional floors below grade, has an adjacent 8,500-sq-ft outdoor plaza and views of the Hudson River and High Line Park on either side of the structure.

“From its 18,000-square-foot column free gallery that features reclaimed wood flooring throughout, to the exposed ceilings, showcasing the Whitney’s MEP systems installed with exacting precision … the Whitney invites dialogue, exploration and bares itself for all of New York City to see,” says Joseph R. Byrne, vice president and operations manager of the project’s general contractor, Turner Construction Co.

The Whitney was designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop with Cooper, Robertson & Partners acting as executive architect.

When asked about the design process, Piano said, “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.”

A great challenge was faced following Hurricane Sandy; the storm flooded the site, leaving it under 30 ft of water. The construction team was forced to reconsider their flood mitigation system. 

“After Sandy we had two options,” says Byrne. “Relocate the MEP [systems] and other installations to higher ground and reduce the Whitney’s gallery and program space or develop a solution to safeguard the original design. The Whitney chose the latter and devised a flood mitigation system that incorporates naval technology.”

The Whitney, whose lobby is 10 ft above sea level, is now designed to be watertight against a flood level of 16.5 ft.

Whitney Museum of American Art

New York City

Key Players
Whitney Museum of American Art
Lead Design Firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop
General Contractor/Construction Manager Turner Construction Co.
Structural Engineer Robert Silman Associates
Civil Engineer Ove Arup & Partners
MEP Engineer Jaros Baum & Bolles