Justin Davidson Takes Down Piano’s “New Whitney”

RENDERING OF THE NEW WHITNEY from Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Cooper, Robertson & Partners

Another reason to love NY Mag’s architecture critic Justin Davidson: he’s as unimpressed with Renzo Piano’s plans for the new downtown Whitney Museum as I am.

He starts:

Having spent years trying to bust out of its concrete compound on Madison Avenue, proposing towers too tall or flamboyant for the Upper East Side, the Whitney Museum of American Art is finally decamping back downtown, where its story started and where the city is still a work-in-progress. Now that the museum has finally found the money, the site, and the time to build a fantasy home from scratch, now that it has unloaded its old building on the Metropolitan Museum as a contemporary-art satellite, and now that the meatpacking district has been spruced up and made safe for a major cultural brand, the Whitney should be riding a current of raw creative power. Why, then, has it brought uptown uptightness to a neighborhood where not many years ago, the blood of butchered beasts still ran among the cobblestones?

But I particularly like his invocation of that most anonymous of anonymous spaces when he deemed the planned museum to be “MoMA south.” HA! Davidson also conjured images of other contemporary museums in his lament that:

Surely even a new museum can offer the progression of large and intimate chambers, of vestibules and nooks found in a converted mansion, where an artwork is treated less like a specimen than as an appurtenance of life.

Ah! The article is thrilling in its strong opposition to one of the world’s greatest architects. In order to expereince maximum enjoyment, you have simply got to read the whole thing.

Justin Davidson = SuperHearts

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