NEW YORK CITY-An approved expansion and renovation effort will nearly double exhibition and public space at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is located at 945 Madison Ave. at 75th Street. In June, the board appointed Renzo Piano Building Workshop to design the effort, but didn’t divulge precise details. Last year the museum scrapped plans for a $200-million expansion effort and development costs for the new plan were not released.

Piano’s design will add new space for galleries and education programs, an auditorium, a research center, a works-on paper study room and a library. It will also create retail and restaurant amenities as well as administrative offices within the footprint of the existing facilities. Piano will also lead the renovation of the Whitney’s existing building, which was designed by Marcel Breuer.

Current exhibition and public space, plus an office annex and existing brownstones totals 98,000 sf. The expansion will bring the total size of the museum to almost 124,000 sf. The new building will have nine floors above ground. Passageways on each floor will allow visitors to circulate between the current building and the new facility.

Piano’s design maintains the individual architectural identities of the existing buildings, four storefronts on Madison Avenue and two townhouse office buildings on East 74th Street. A new structure will sit within the brownstones on Madison Avenue and 74th Street.

“We don’t want the proportions of the new building to be overbearing,” says Renzo Piano. “It isn’t about making the Whitney big, it is about giving it the space it needs to present its collection and operate effectively.”

Over the past 10 years, the museum’s permanent collection has grown by more than 65% to about 15,000 works of art, but because of its limited space, the museum has been able to display less than 2% of its current holdings. 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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