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NEW YORK CITY-The Whitney Museum of American Art will undergo an expansion after all. While Whitney representatives are keeping mum on the precise expansion details, last year the museum changed plans for a $200 million expansion effort. This time around, the Board of Trustees has appointed Renzo Piano Building Workshop to design the effort it feels will “help the Whitney better serve its audiences and address a critical need for space for the permanent collection, special exhibitions and educational programs.” Because of its limited space situation, the museum has been able to display less than 2% of its current holdings.

The scope of Piano’s work will involve the creation of new galleries, educational and public spaces within the existing Whitney properties as well as the improvement of the visitor experience. The Whitney’s current buildings include the Marcel Breuer building, four storefront brownstone buildings on Madison Avenue and two townhouse office buildings on East 74th Street.

Also part of the expansion will be increased space for educational programs, including the creation of its first dedicated auditorium and a study center for works on paper. The project will also enable the Museum to consolidate its staff. In recent years, the Museum’s collection has grown to more than 14,000 works of art and the limited gallery space has also inhibited a special exhibition program that in the past five had 18 exhibitions traveling to 46 museums in 35 cities.

Whitney officials conducted a six-month-long search process which started with more than 50 firms. That was whittled down to 12 who made presentations. Whitney director Adam D. Weinberg and the Architect Selection Committee of the Board of Trustees, headed by Melva Bucksbaum, worked with Reed Kroloff, newly appointed dean of the Tulane University School of Architecture. The committee also toured the many of the firms’ built work.

“He brings a remarkable sensitivity to the special character of the Whitney, our neighborhood, and our desire to create something in which artists will love to work,” Bucksbaum says of Piano’s work. Piano’s other works in Manhattan include the Pierpont Morgan Library and he is currently working on the headquarters building for the New York Times as well as a master plan for Columbia University.

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