The Whitney Museum scored starchitect Renzo Piano to build a new downtown megamuseum along the High Line's main entrance at Gansevoort Street. Part of that Piano package is a new High Line maintenance and operations building, where Friends of the High Line will house offices, vehicles, and flora-related activities, all to be used by the well-booted crew that keeps the park up and sprouting. But the Whitney is still raising cash, and the High Line is ready to get a move on. So, in anticipation of a 2011 construction kick-off, FHL's director of planning recently met with the Parks Committee of Community Board 2 to present initial ideas for Renzo's refined and utilitarian scheme.
The $20 million M&O building, on a plot 120 feet long from east to west and 48 feet wide as it faces the High Line, will sit separate from the elevated tracks. Connected by a set of bridges at park level, the layout offers visitors access to an elevator, restrooms and park offices. The four-story 26,000-square-foot building will be fully bounded on both the south and west by the Whitney building, which Piano has designed as a series of set-back terraced galleries, rising to the west as it moves away from the High Line. The new Whitney will give protection to another terrace that sits atop the M&O facility and overlooks the High Line, the perfect spot for positioning some really big art.
The main exposure of the M&O building looks north, with offices on the second and fourth levels faced in metal and expanses of glass that are great for Standard Hotel viewing. That north facade, in full view of park goers, will have a sleek industrial look in dark gray, visually connecting it to original High Line structure. The M&O's most prominent feature is a runway for small park vehicles with closeable cargo bays extending along the full length at the third level, connected by another bridge to the park itself. At street level, the north side will have a series of loading docks and a freight elevator for moving small service vehicles up to park level. Facing onto Washington Street is a cafe; tables extend into the open plaza beneath the refurbished hulk of the High Line, with views across Washington Street towards the landmarked properties of the Meatpacking District.
At the south corner will be a new glass elevator in high Diller Scofidio + Renfro mode, rising over the Whitney's planned entrance and public sculpture plaza along Gansevoort Street, ultimately reaching the High Line at the third floor. Construction of the environmentally-conscious M&O building, aiming for LEED Silver certification, is planned to last for two years, with maintenance in full operation by 2013.
· Whitney MePa coverage [Curbed]