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Whitney to Break Ground on Downtown Outpost Next Spring

(Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

It’s official: the Whitney Museum of American Art will break ground on its new building in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District in May 2011. Zoning is complete, demolition has begun, and if all goes according to plan, the new digs would open to the public in 2015. Designed by Renzo Piano [cue chorus of angels], the six-floor building will include more than 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of rooftop exhibition space. The fourth and fifth floors alone will equal the total square footage of the museum’s uptown flagship, designed by Marcel Breuer. Speaking of the brutalist icon, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is angling to take control of it as a satellite exhibition space once the Whitney decamps downtown. Or, as the Whitney put it in a recent statement, “The boards of both institutions have authorized the discussions to determine the scope and timing of this potential collaboration.” Renzo and his dramatic cantilevering don’t come cheap (total project budget: $680 million), and a deal with the Met would help pay the bills. Meanwhile, the Whitney has already raised $372 million. Drop off your donation and check out the Biennial before it closes. Does 3 a.m. Thursday work for you? The museum is currently open all day and all night (through this Friday at 11:59 p.m.) as part of artist Michael Asher‘s Biennial project.

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