an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Tomorrow on WNYC: Architecture Critic James Russell and I Double-Team the Downtown Whitney


Bloomberg’s architecture critic and I, before donning hardhats to venture into the Downtown Whitney’s construction site today

UPDATE: More on this, here.

Yesterday, the Whitney Museum invited members of the art and architecture press to peruse the not-ready-for-primetime Downtown Whitney. If all goes according to plan, you can hear my premature opinionating about this in-construction cultural anchor for the southern end of the High Line at about 8:30 a.m. on WNYC, New York Public Radio. (You can listen live, here.) I’ll be joined on the program by Bloomberg‘s distinguished architecture critic, James Russell. (He’ll be speaking from the studio; I’ll be phoning in.)

I don’t know about James, but in my many years visiting museum construction sites, I can’t recall ever getting a walkthrough this early in the construction phase. Maybe my partner in prognostication will be better than I at visualizing how this is all going to look when it opens in 2015. But anything we say can only be tentative, since what we saw looked mostly like this:


Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

If I remember correctly, the above image shows the bones of the boardroom—probably the closest I’ll ever get to the trustees’ lair.

One thing’s for certain: This Renzo Piano-designed building has great, sweeping views of the Hudson River to the west, and the cityscape to the north, south and east:

Empire State Building in the distance Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Empire State Building, as seen in the distance
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

I’m ready to share some first installation-related impressions, informed by a tour led by the museum’s chief curator and deputy director for programs, Donna De Salvo, who contagiously communicated her excitement about the potential of these expansive, flexible spaces for comprehensive installations of the Whitney’s permanent collection and for temporary shows. My critical counterpart toured with Adam Weinberg, getting the director’s perspective. Although we split up, I suspect he also chatted with Renzo, who was in attendance. (Tomorrow, an exhibition covering more than 30 years of Piano’s work opens at Gagosian Gallery on W. 21st Street.)

Renzo Piano at the Downtown Whitney press preview Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Renzo Piano at the Downtown Whitney press preview
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

I’ll have more to say later on how the Downtown Whitney is shaping up.

an ArtsJournal blog