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Modified Whitney Expansion Plan Wins Approval

After scaling back its proposed expansion plans, yesterday the Whitney Museum of American Art cleared an important hurdle on the road to getting the project built.

Preservationists and neighborhood groups objected to Renzo Piano’s original expansion plan, unveiled last year, because it would have involved demolishing several brownstones adjoining the museum. The revised plan calls for demolishing only one brownstone and saving another that is considered a “contributing building” to the surrounding historic district. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to approve this plan at a hearing yesterday.

To spare the contributing brownstone, Piano reduced the width of a new museum entrance plaza from 32 feet to 16 feet. A museum spokesperson said that the Whitney is now working with him to see how this revision will affect the overall project size and program.

The museum will head next to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals for zoning variances. It could be up to 18 months before construction begins, the spokesperson said. The Whitney has been housed in its current building, designed by Marcel Breuer, since 1966. Two previous attempts to expand the building failed to win both public support and official approval.

James Murdock