For the past few months, all eyes have been on the new Whitney. From architecture reviews of Renzo Piano’s modern museum to insider looks at the galleries, New Yorkers can’t stop talking about the design of this game-changing structure. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the building, though. In 2012, halfway through construction, Hurricane Sandy flooded the museum with more than five million gallons of water, causing the architects to rethink the site.
The Whitney now boasts a custom flood-mitigation system that was “designed like a submarine,” according to engineer Kevin Schorn, one of Piano’s assistants. As The Atlantic reports, the system has a 15,500-pound water-tight door that was designed by engineers who work on the U.S. Navy’s Destroyers and can protect against a flood level of 16.5 feet (seven feet higher than the waters during Sandy) and withstand an impact from 6,750 pounds of debris. But what’s just as amazing as these figures is the fact that this huge system is invisible to the average person.
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Look out—not up—because there’s a new low-rise Rafael Vinoly-designed building coming our way. The architect mastermind behind the city’s tallest residential tower, 432 Park Avenue, has just been chosen to design a comparatively demure ten-story office-and-retail building in the Meatpacking District, reports The Real Deal. The new addition is being developed by Vornado Realty Trust and Aurora Capital Associates and is located on the former site of Prince Lumber at 61 Ninth Avenue. No design details have emerged thus far, but the building will come with 123,000 square feet of space with retail at its first two floors and office space above. And given its position just a block from the High Line, something starchitecturally audacious wouldn’t be totally out of order.
May 1st will mark a new era for the Whitney when its brand new home along the High Line swings its doors open to the public for the first time. A project that has been decades in the making, the $422 million structure designed by Renzo Piano is a game changer for a museum that had long outgrown its Upper East Side space. Boasting a whopping 220,000 square feet of column-free spaces, this glass and steel behemoth is a dynamic assemblage of shapes and angles, and perfectly outfitted to host the Whitney Museum’s 22,000 works and then some. Though the museum won’t officially open for another few days, this morning 6sqft joined a trove of celebrants at the pre-opening preview of the new High Line-hugging masterpiece. Take an exclusive photo tour with us inside ahead.
All the photos here
In February, the futuristic Pier 55 floating park planned for the Meatpacking District moved forward with a lease deal between the Hudson River Park Trust and a nonprofit group controlled by Barry Diller, the billionaire media mogul who pledged $130 million back in November to fund the $151.8 million park. Diller is allocating the funds through the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation (his wife is fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg), but under the agreement he can pull his support if he feels renovations at neighboring piers aren’t up to par. And according to DNAinfo, the city’s backup plan in this event is quite underwhelming, completely scratching the floating island and creating a $30 million park similar to others along Hudson River Park.
We know all about the Meatpacking District’s beginnings as the Gansevoort Market and the epicenter of meat marketers, as well as its current status as a burgeoning office tower district, but in the 1980s, this neighborhood was one to which most people didn’t pay much mind. It was fairly run down, with its industrial tenants having moved out, and became notorious for prostitution, sex clubs, and drug dealing. But there was much more to the area, including an accepting LGBT community and a downtown music and entertainment scene.
In this video we found from 1986, a young RuPaul takes us into his penthouse suite at the Jane Hotel, then known as the Jane West Hotel and far seedier than it is today, as well as walks around the gritty streets of the Meatpacking District and into his friend’s 9th Avenue rowhouse, which will undoubtedly look familiar to anyone who’s walked these cobblestone streets.
Watch the video here
As we all await the opening of the new building of the Whitney Museum for American Art in May, it might be interesting to see what’s underneath it—or was.
There’s an old saying, “To create, you must first destroy,” and so long as it doesn’t specify how much of one and how good the other, the statement generally slips by without challenge. So it was with the Whitney’s new site along the High Line in the Meatpacking District. There wasn’t a lot that needed to be destroyed. There was, however, this little building, the Gansevoort Pumping Station, a small, classically inspired edifice with arches separated by pilasters. It was designed by Michael and Mitchell Bernstein, brothers who were widely known for turn of the twentieth-century tenements. Designed in 1906 and completed in 1908, it was built as a pumphouse for high-pressure fire service by the City of New York and later served as one of the area’s quintessential meat markets.
Read the entire history of the site here
Why is it called the Meatpacking District when there are only six meat packers there, down from about 250? Inertia, most likely. The area has seen so many different uses over time, and they’re so often mercantile ones that Gansevoort Market would probably be a better name for it.
Located on the shore of the Hudson River, it’s a relatively small district in Manhattan stretching from Gansevoort Street at the foot of the High Line north to and including West 14th Street and from the river three blocks east to Hudson Street. Until its recent life as a go-to high fashion mecca, it was for almost 150 years a working market: dirty, gritty, and blood-stained.
Read the full history here
Last we heard about Pier55–the 2.4-acre futuristic floating park and performance space proposed by billionaire media mogul Barry Diller that would jut 186 feet into the Hudson at 13th Street–Community Board 2 had mixed feelings about the project. They liked Thomas Heatherwick’s design, but cited concern over the lack of transparency from Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust.
Despite these feelings, though, we’ve learned today from the Times that the Trust approved a lease agreement with Pier 55 Inc., a nonprofit group controlled by Diller, to help develop the $130 million public space. Diller has already pledged $113 million toward the project through the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation (his wife is fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg). So, what’s next?
What’s to come for Pier 55
It’s been relatively quiet over the past six weeks or so as far as news about the proposed offshore park and performance space in the Hudson River known as Pier55. But this week, Community Board 2’s Parks and Waterfront Committee reviewed the project, and though they liked Thomas Heatherwick’s design overall, they cited their main concern as transparency.
The board’s issue stems from the fact that billionaire media mogul Barry Diller, who committed $130 million to the 2.7-acre park, and the Hudson River Park Trust had been working secretively for two years on the plans. According to Curbed, committee member Arthur Schwartz said, “Probably the main public critique of this project has been the way that so much of the design was developed in infinite detail before it even became a matter of public knowledge.”
More on the outcome of the public meeting
Last week, news broke that billionaire media mogul Barry Diller had been working with the Hudson River Park Trust for the past two years on an idea for an offshore park and performance space in the Hudson River. And though it seemed far-fetched at first, the fact that Diller had personally committed $130 million to the project and that detailed renderings had been created made it see much more plausible.
And now Thomas Heatherwick, the British designer behind the Pier 55 floating park, is opening up about how the decrepit West Side piers inspired his vision for the undulating, landscaped “aquatic High Line.”
Hear what Heatherwick has to say