May 25, 2005
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
Pianos 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 citys 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.