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NYguy Oct 13, 2009 1:05 PM

Whitney Advances Plans for Museum Near the High Line

October 11, 2009

Three years after reaching a tentative agreement with the city, the Whitney Museum of American Art is forging ahead with plans to build a second museum at the entrance to the High Line, the abandoned elevated railway line that has recently been transformed into a public park.

The museum signed a contract last month with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to buy the city-owned site at Washington and Gansevoort Streets, in the meatpacking district, for $18 million. That is about half the appraised value of the property, a sign of the city’s interest in drawing visitors to the area.

According to the final agreement, the Whitney has up to four years to close on the purchase of the land and five years to begin construction of the building, designed by Renzo Piano. The museum will make nonrefundable monthly payments of $50,000 to the city until the closing date, which has not been determined. These payments will be credited toward the purchase price. (The balance is due at the closing.)

The signed contract comes three years after the Dia Art Foundation scrapped its plans to open a museum next to the High Line entrance. That’s when the Whitney stepped in and reached a conditional agreement to take over the space.

Since then the economy has taken a toll. In the spring the Whitney laid off eight employees, or 4 percent of its work force, and froze the salaries of senior staff members. In addition, the operating budget was reduced by about 10 percent.

Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, said the money for the project would come from capital funds, not the operating budget. “The two are separate,” he explained.

For decades the Whitney had tried to expand its landmark home — the 1966 Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue and 75th Street — but because of cost considerations the museum abandoned those plans and focused on a satellite downtown.

A second museum is critical to the future of the institution, Mr. Weinberg said, adding: “This is the only way we can continue to justify building a collection. We simply don’t have enough space to show our holdings. And since at least 60 percent of the art we acquire comes through gifts, it becomes more difficult to ask people to donate works if we cannot show them.”

Most of the Breuer space is devoted to special exhibitions, Mr. Weinberg said, with only about a quarter of the building left to display art from the permanent collection, one of the foremost holdings of 20th-century American art. “I’d like it to be 50-50,” he said. “You hear people say they are going to the Whitney to see a show, but you rarely hear someone say they are going to the Whitney to see our collection.”

The Breuer building is also a difficult space to maneuver. When the giant biennial closes, for instance, it takes three weeks to get the art out and install another show. “That’s just bad business,” Mr. Weinberg said.

But in this economy, paying for the High Line site will be a challenge. In May the museum announced a fund-raising campaign of $680 million: $435 million for the new building and about $245 million for the endowment. While Mr. Weinberg would not say how much had been raised so far, other than “a very substantial amount,” he did say that “giving slowed last year, but since the summer things have picked up.”

In addition to raising money from individuals and corporations, the Whitney plans to sell five town houses next to the Breuer building when the real estate market improves. The proceeds will be earmarked for the downtown site.

The project would give the Whitney a six-floor museum more than twice the size of its Madison Avenue home. The satellite would include more than 50,000 square feet of galleries and about 15,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space.

The Whitney will also have right of first offer on another city-owned property, north of the downtown site, which is occupied by the Gansevoort Meat Market Cooperative. If the co-op decides not to renew its lease, which expires in 2014, the Whitney could entertain the possibility of expanding once again.

“It’s bigger than our existing site,” Mr. Weinberg said, comparing the co-op’s space to that of the Whitney project. “And we would probably co-develop it with another institution.”

For the city, the addition of a Whitney downtown is another magnet to draw people to an area it has worked hard to develop. “We think this is a great anchor to this cultural district,” said Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “It will provide a gateway to the High Line. The two are complementary.”

A question remains, however, about how the Whitney can run two sites at once. Last year when Leonard A. Lauder, the museum’s chairman emeritus, gave $131 million through his foundation, he stipulated that the Whitney could not sell its Breuer building for an extended, but unspecified, period of time.

Mr. Weinberg said that the museum was studying options to see how to make the two sites work programmatically and financially. Teaming up with another institution is one idea. “We’re exploring all sorts of possibilities,” Mr. Weinberg said.

rapid_business Oct 14, 2009 3:51 AM

I finally had a chance to check out the High Line this weekend. It was done really well... very impressed. I'll post some pictures soon. Who was the the L/A firm that designed it?

sbarn Oct 14, 2009 6:46 PM

:previous: Field Operations, lead by James Corner was the landscape architect. Renfro Diller and Scirfidio (sp?) was the architect firm on the project.

NYguy Oct 20, 2009 1:48 PM

High Line Keeps Going

By Reid Pillifant
October 19, 2009

The full, 1.5-mile vision for the High Line Park inched one step closer to completion today, with the first concrete indication that the city will acquire the northern third of the elevated rail line.

At a City Planning Commission meeting this afternoon, chair Amanda Burden said the commission is preparing the paperwork for the city to purchase the stretch--between 30th and 34th Streets and the spur over Tenth Avenue--all of which is currently owned by the rail company CSX.

"We're thrilled," said Peter Mullan, the Vice President for Planning and Design for Friends of the High Line. "It's really the linchpin for saving the High Line at the railyards. It doesn't guarantee preservation but it's the first step towards that," he said.

The acquisition would mean that any changes to the property would be decided through a public process--and what with the public adoration for the viaduct-turned-park, it would seem to be a considerable safeguard. Friends of the High Line had been pressuring the city to take control of the stretch for months, fearing that it might fall outside the public purview as the developer, Related Companies, finalized plans for the site.

But Related has insisted all along that the High Line is in its plans, and Mr. Mullan praised their commitment after today's announcement. "Putting it in their plans gave a strong signal to the city that there was no reason not to move forward," Mr. Mullan said.

The second stretch of the High Line is currently under construction, and is expected to open before the end of 2010.

NYguy Oct 22, 2009 2:43 PM



NYguy Nov 8, 2009 2:33 PM

HL23 nearing completion...


NYC4Life Nov 9, 2009 4:27 AM

Manhattan's shorter high rises are getting more European in style it seems.

Busy Bee Nov 9, 2009 4:46 AM

Just because its high quality adventurous modernism doesn't make it European. Modern architecture may be more embraced in Europe and accepted as mainstream, but that in no way makes modern architecture a European product or export.

NYC2ATX Nov 9, 2009 6:06 AM

I think Manhattan is adopting a more European attitude towards the urban environment in general. Emphasis on pedestrian space and bike lanes has been exploding over the past few years and only more plans are in the works. The waterfront reclamation projects also suggest this new attitude, but then I think that if anywhere in the U.S. should set the bar for cutting-edge urbanism, it should be Manhattan. :cool:

texcolo Nov 9, 2009 2:29 PM

You know you've got a good park going when people start getting their marriage photos there. They picked this park over Central Park to get their photos done.


NYguy Nov 30, 2009 3:07 PM

Storecasting: Won't You Be DVF's New Neighbor?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
by Izzy Grinspan

Developers just got the go-ahead to build a glossy new ten-story tower at Washington and West 13th Street, across the street from Diane von Furstenberg's Meatpacking District HQ. Curbed has more on the building's details, but we're most interested in the large retail space that will run along Washington Street. It's probably too small to become the MePa Bloomingdales of legend, but some other luxury brand could make good use of the space. Any suggestions? Let us know in the comments.

DVF herself, by the way, is quite pleased with this news, even though (because?) it means you won't be able to peer into her studio from the Standard Hotel anymore. Of the Romanoffs, who are developing the building, she says: "As an old family of the Meat Packing District, the Romanoffs have committed to preserve the neighborhood as a destination for high-end fashion and commerce." We're glad to hear someone's standing up for neighborhood's longstanding shopping history.


Kiss those views into Diane von Furstenberg's studio from the lower half of The Standard goodbye. The Board of Standards & Appeals has approved the zoning variances being sought by Meatpacking District developers/landlords the Romanoff family to build a glassy new commercial building at Washington and West 13th Street, right up against the High Line and across the street from André Balazs's playground for the fabulous. The Romanoffs argued that they should be permitted to build big because the High Line, which cuts through the property, prevents them from taking full advantage of the site. The proposal was already run through the SizeChopper, but the approved version is even smaller—10 stories, or 175 feet tall, still 24% larger than zoning allows. The new James Carpenter-designed retail and office Mecca will be known as 860 Washington Street.

Here's rundown on the architecture and what's going in the new building:

Carpenter chose materials for the design that would reflect the industrial origins of the neighborhood, including terra cotta, zinc, and perforated metals in a range of subtle grays, along with concrete and glass. The Building will be LEED Certified, containing a large amount of recycled content. Large glass “lites” will maximize views out of the building and daylight penetration into the building, reducing the amount of energy required to provide appropriate light levels during the day time within the building. With a network of green roofs located both on the primary roof and the 4th floor setback, the building will minimize the heat island affect that occurs with most buildings in an urban environment as well as reduce the burden of storm water discharge into the municipal sewer system.

This world class building encompasses ten stories totaling 116,000 square feet. The first two floors offer many options and versatility for retail space ranging in size from 11,500 to 13,200 square feet and slab to slab ceiling heights of 17’ to 25’ feet. Office space on floors 3 through 10 offer approximately 11,000 sf of rentable space per floor with 14' to 17’ slab to slab ceiling heights. In addition, the retail space also offers tenants greater flexibility given the ability to integrate the ground floor and second floor. A portion of the retail space is located underneath the High Line and includes a sky light at the High Line level offering tenants a truly unique design opportunity.

The Romanoffs even got DVF herself to say a few kind words: "As the neighbors to the north of 860 Washington Street, we are delighted that the City of New York has granted the necessary variances for this project to move ahead. As an old family of the Meat Packing District, the Romanoffs have committed to preserve the neighborhood as a destination for high-end fashion and commerce." Indeed, finally someone is brave enough to stand up for the Meatpacking District's long tradition as a, um, fancy shopping destination!

NYguy Jan 19, 2010 3:24 PM

High Line Spy Shots Show New Section Not Yet in Bloom

High Line Spy Shots Show New Section Not Yet in Bloom
January 19, 2010, by Joey

Section 2 of the High Line, running from 20th Street to 30th Street, is scheduled for an opening sometime in 2010. When exactly? Friends of the High Line isn't saying, but these aerial photos sent in by a Curbed tipster show just how far the extension of everyone's favorite makeover of formerly abandoned train tracks has to go. Will Section 2 be ready for the June one-year anniversary of the debut of Section 1? Only a select group of construction workers, gardeners and Diane von Furstenbergs knows.
The staircase-to-be right outside architect Neil Denari's HL23.

rapid_business Jan 19, 2010 7:50 PM

wicked. :tup:

NYguy Feb 3, 2010 12:51 AM

The Standard

Kurt Strahm

NYguy Feb 15, 2010 2:07 AM


joseph a

Aleks Feb 23, 2010 3:54 AM

Is HL23 condo exclusively? I don't think I'd like living on those bottom units if so. Floor-to-ceiling and they all face downward towards a park?

BTW, i saw a listing for the penthouse of this building and it is SWEEEEET!

NYguy Feb 23, 2010 2:08 PM


Originally Posted by Aleks (Post 4713462)
Is HL23 condo exclusively? I don't think I'd like living on those bottom units if so. Floor-to-ceiling and they all face downward towards a park?

That's part of the charm for some people. Here's the website with a little more detail on the HL23 and some renderings from the site... Building

NYguy Mar 2, 2010 5:16 PM

Show us some glass

By Steve Cuozzo
March 2, 2010


Charles Blaichman, developer of High Line-straddling 450 W. 14th St., insists there's nothing wrong with his 15-story project that's still a concrete skeleton, vowing that curtain-wall glass will finally start appearing on the smallish, but extraordinarily visible, structure "by next Monday or Tuesday."

That will be a welcome turn of events indeed, because Blaichman and his team twice before told us that installation of the glass façade on the Morris Adjmi-designed boutique office building straddling the park would start imminently.

The project -- a 12-story glass box atop an old, three-story brick industrial structure -- was expected to be finished last summer.

But today, scaffolding and nets shroud the brick base that forms a pedestrian passageway over the High Line. The eastern side of the passageway was recently closed to protect park-goers from overhead construction.

None of that means anything's wrong if it merely reflects the final stage of work. Blaichman said delays are attributable to "normal things that happen on every job."

"What you don't see is that all the mechanicals are done," Blaichman said.

Newmark Knight Frank office leasing broker Brian Waterman, who's signed fashion house Helmut Lang for two floors, said he knew of no construction problem.

"I can assure you that nothing is wrong," echoed Winick Realty's Kelly Gedinsky, the project's retail leasing agent. "We had some crazy snow days. It's definitely going to affect any construction site."

But while bad weather might slow even a project as small as 450 W. 14th, which topped off last April, Blaichman & Co. have been less than forthcoming about other issues.

Last summer, they cited a dispute between the Buildings Dept. and the Parks Dept. over a sidewalk shed. But they didn't mention partial stop-work orders for major violations. Those included a December citation for "failure to safeguard public and property" over an incident in which a 1,500-pound steel beam fell from the sixth floor.

Meanwhile, Blaichman's contractor recently asked the Dept. of Environmental Protection for a permit to pump up to 720,000 gallons of groundwater daily into the sewage system. A rep for DEP said the agency had granted "conditional approval" pending completion of an engineering statement. "We're still exchanging information," she said.

Blaichman denied any groundwater problem, saying the permit is in case "we get water from rain."

OK -- show us some glass!

NYguy Mar 12, 2010 5:08 AM

Piano Still Playing With the Whitney in MePa
The Whitney site from Gansevoort; the M&O structure will rise to the left.

March 11, 2010, by Pete


The recent news that a "maintenance and operations" building for the High Line was moving ahead at 820 Washington Street left some doubts about architect Renzo Piano's plan for a new Whitney Museum at the edge of the Meatpacking District. After all, the two were supposed to share space. But the Piano is still in tune. We dug into the High Line Maintenance and Operations Facility RFP from the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and the Renzo Piano Building Workshop is listed as the design consultant on the project. Phew! We don't want the High Line's new Love Shack clashing with all that fancy Italian starchitecture!

The "Detailed Site Map" shows the long and narrow M&O building will go up on the north end of the site just west of the High Line, off Washington. That corresponds with both models and renders of the Whitney MePa from the Renzo Piano Building Workshop showing a boxy structure with a ramp running alongside and a terrace on top.

The bulk of that building site was cleared last summer and the Parks Department and Friends of the High Line have positioned several trailers on the Washington Street site to serve as a temporary maintenance and operations facility until the new building is completed. That construction is set to wrap up in 2013, leading us to surmise that the rest of the Piano plan won't be rising anytime soon. But there's another little nugget in the RFP: "It is anticipated that the M&O Facility will meet a minimum LEED Silver certification." That's the silver lining around the Whitney MePa cloud.
Model from Renzo Piano Building Workship showing the Whitney plan with the High Line maintenance box on the north edge of the site.

NYguy Mar 17, 2010 12:44 AM

High-Line-Straddling Office Building Finally Getting Glassed

Tuesday, March 16, 2010, by Joey


There is no one High Line building but there is, however, a High Line Building, the name given to architect Morris Adjmi's glassy addition to a former warehouse that the elevated tracks run through at 450 West 14th Street. Helmut Lang has already signed on for two floors and construction on the Meatpacking District office building got underway many moons ago (we even got a look inside), but it's been a long slog without much visible progress. No longer! The Cuozz noted today that glass has started going up on the skeleton's south-facing side. Indeed, The Standard hotel now has some fresh glass reflecting all that naughtiness going on inside its rooms.

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