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  #1  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2006, 12:42 PM
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Smile NEW YORK | museums, expansions

NY Magazine

Queens Latest Borough to Get New Museum; Staten Islanders Forgotten?



A rendering of the Queens Museum of Art's new east façade.



Like so many city trends these days, it started in Brooklyn.

First, in April 2004, the Brooklyn Museum of Art unveiled its $63 million renovation, complete with a new 15,000-square-foot entrance pavilion. Seven months later came — did you hear about this little thing? — Manhattan's new MoMA, built at a cost of $858 million. And last week the Bronx Museum of the Arts unveiled a hipper façade and addition, by the Miami architects Arquitectonica. (Nicolai Ouroussoff called it "unpretentious," which is so very outer borough). Now, not to be left out, the Queens Museum of Art has announced its own $37 million expansion plan, which includes doubling the size of the museum, building an Olympic-size indoor pool, and adding an ice-skating rink with seating for 400. (It may sound more fun than it looks; the Sun called the new design "a drab gray structure.")

Which all adds up to one question: What about art lovers in the city's so-often-forgotten borough, Staten Island? Don't they deserve a little newness too?

Turns out the city's only "general interest" museum has been quietly planning its own expansion — since the eighties. Plans were made, then budgets were slashed, and nothing ever got off the ground. But now it's finally happening. Buoyed by extra capital and support from the Bloomberg administration, a plan is moving forward to renovate and restore two landmarked Greek Revival buildings in the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. The museum is located nearby, close to the ferry terminal; the move is expected in 2009 or 2010.

So do the Staten Islanders feel jealous of all this attention on other boroughs' museums? "Um, I don't think there's so much of a competition," says Henryk Behnke, the Staten Island Museum's marketing and development veep, after a long pause. "We're just in the early stages. We want to make the unveiling in a year and a half. It has to be timed very well. Hopefully, we'll have the mayor here." Hope away, guys. We bet Brooklyn was able to get the mayor.

— Melena Ryzik
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Old Posted Oct 16, 2006, 12:45 PM
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Daily News

Plans to double size of Queens Museum of Art

BY DONALD BERTRAND


The Queens Museum of Art has unveiled new architectural designs for an expanded museum, which officials hope will be better received than plans that were proposed four years ago.

The new plans call for the size of the museum - now located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park that served as the New York City Building in the 1939 World's Fair - to double.

The latest design calls for an ice rink that now occupies the southern half of the building to move into a $55.2 million facility being built in the park. That new facility would include an Olympic-sized indoor pool and a National Hockey League-size skating rink with seating for 400.


In 2002, a group of preservationists and architectural historians lambasted the original design, with one calling it the "London Blitz design, because it looks like the building was bombed in the London Blitz."

Museum Executive Director Tom Finkelpearl said the new design will bring more light into the building and make it more inviting.

Finkelpearl conceded that the museum's exterior makes it look like "a worn-out, rundown kind of place," and said he gets frustrated when one visitor after another tells him: "This place is much better than I thought."

"We want people to say, 'This is just as good as I thought,'" he said. "The exterior of the building should be as good as the interior."

If all goes according to plan, the final ice rink season in New York City Building would be next spring, with expansion construction following. The expansion is to be finished in January 2010.

The expansion project will cost about $37 million. So far, $33 million in funding has been allocated, with some $21 million of it coming from Queens Borough President Helen Marshall's office.

Mayor Bloomberg's office provided an additional $7 million in funding, and the City Council $4.6 million.
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Old Posted Oct 16, 2006, 12:56 PM
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NY Times

Art to the People, and Vice Versa, in the Bronx



A new look: The just-completed addition at the Bronx Museum of the Arts includes a pleated facade of aluminum.

By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF
October 6, 2006

The way I see it, Arquitectonica has owed New York a decent building. That firm built its reputation with a series of projects in its hometown, Miami, that mixed bold forms and alluring surfaces at bargain prices. But in New York it has produced only clunkers. Its Westin Hotel tower on Eighth Avenue defines cheapness: a collage of gaudy colors with a long, illuminated arc scratched across its facade. And the muted plaid pattern that it used to decorate the first of a group of towers currently under construction in Long Island City, Queens, is not an improvement.

But with the completion of the addition to the Bronx Museum of the Arts, all is forgiven. With its pleated aluminum facade and refreshingly unpretentious interiors, the addition is a reminder of how architecture can have a profound public impact when its values are in the right place. And it demonstrates how simple it can be to bridge the divide between art and its audience at a time when much bigger, more high-profile museums and their ultra-rich boards can seem baffled by their cultural roles.

The addition is the centerpiece of a string of building projects that promise to shore up the Bronx’s dicey image as well as help reassert its former identity as a haven for the middle class. Bulldozers have already begun clearing the site for the new Yankee Stadium a few blocks away, a bold new criminal courts complex designed by Rafael Viñoly is nearing completion just down the street, and the Grand Concourse is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar face-lift.

Of these sites the museum is the most steeped in the Bronx’s turbulent social history. Founded in 1971, when the Bronx was still substantially white and middle class, it first made its home in the streamlined Moderne rotunda of the 1930’s-era county building. Curators joke that its audience was mostly defendants being dragged to court, conjuring the image of an art therapy class rather than a serious museum.

The story is only half true, but it hints at the museum’s struggle to form an identity in a borough that was undergoing dramatic social changes. In 1982 the museum moved to its current location, a former synagogue at the corner of Grand Concourse and 165th Street that had been abandoned by its congregation as the neighborhood became increasingly Latino. An awkward 1988 renovation by Castro-Blanco Piscioneri & Associates provided a more formal entry, but its corner lobby and cramped balconies had the feel of a suburban mall.

Arquitectonica’s new addition slips into this messy context with surprising ease. In keeping with their populist agenda, the firm’s principals, Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Laurinda Spear, don’t try to hide the building’s low-budget construction. Instead, the main facade is conceived as an enormous folding screen, its glistening aluminum surface draped over the building’s crude concrete block structure.

The facade gives the building a wonderful lightness. And it brings to mind an updated version of the streamlined Art Deco designs of 1920’s architects like the Los Angeles firm of Morgan, Walls & Clements, which created a populist architecture for the emerging car culture. As in those earlier designs, the glistening vertical folds of Arquitectonica’s facade act as a visual counterpoint both to the horizontal movement of the cars streaming by on the concourse and to the heavy brick buildings that flank the museum.

But the playful exterior forms also reflect a wonderfully nuanced interplay between the inner life of the museum and the public world outside. The vertical bands of windows are set deep inside the facade’s creases, so that from directly across the street you barely notice them. As you approach the museum along the sidewalk, however, you catch diagonal views into the lobby, luring you inside.

That bond — between art and public — continues right up through the building. A single column anchors the vertical lobby, accentuating its height, while a long ramp at the back of the space feeds into a new 2,500-square-foot gallery at the back of the building and the old galleries off to the right.

The creased facade is even more effective from inside. The tall, angled windows offer picturesque views of pedestrians strolling up and down the boulevard. As you step deeper into the building those views disappear, which helps refocus your attention onto the art.

A warning: Don’t expect anything fancy here. The main gallery is a simple white box with raw concrete floors. The standard steel railings and light fixtures have a straightforward institutional quality. And although the old galleries have been given a slick new paint job, they are just as utilitarian. But this only serves to make the museum feel more open and accessible. It reinforces the sense of public ownership that is so crucial to a museum’s success.

It also seems to have liberated the curators, who appear to have eagerly responded to the building’s populist theme. The addition opens with “Tropicália,” a show about the period of experimental Brazilian art that began in the late 1960’s, and the artwork spills into every corner of the museum. A mural commissioned for the opening, by the collaborative group Assume Vivid Astro Focus, covers the back of the lobby in a swirl of Day-Glo. Sculptures by Rodrigo Araújo and Marepe are scattered across the lobby floor, where they will be visible from the street.

The museum’s ambitions don’t end here. Fund-raising has yet to begin for a second phase of construction that would expand the museum to the south, replacing the old 1988 Castro-Blanco building with new galleries, a performing arts space and a residential tower. The proposal, also designed by Arquitectonica, would erase some of the nice historical tensions embodied in the current museum, but it would give the institution a much-needed coherence, something that it richly deserves. And revenue from the residential tower could provide some financial stability for one of the city’s most underappreciated art institutions.

But for the time being, the new addition proves what can be accomplished with few resources and a lot of heart. It is a reminder that not all museum expansions are driven by media-savvy self-promoters, that the big, bad corporate machine has not yet penetrated every corner of the culture world. Increasingly in today’s New York, the most humble projects are the most moving.
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Old Posted Nov 1, 2006, 1:03 PM
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NY Times

Whitney Museum May Move Expansion to Downtown Site

_


By ROBIN POGREBIN
October 31, 2006
Correction Appended

The Whitney Museum of American Art, after fighting for more than a year to have an addition to its Madison Avenue building approved, has all but decided that moving its expansion to another site would make more sense, people involved in the process say.

The museum won its struggle to have the city approve a tower designed by the architect Renzo Piano. But after weighing the pros and cons, those familiar with the process say, the Whitney has determined that the Piano project may not get the museum sufficient additional space for the money.

The museum has instead set its sights on a location downtown at the entrance to the High Line, an abandoned elevated railway that is to become a landscaped esplanade. The Dia Art Foundation announced last week that it no longer planned to build a museum there.


This marks a striking turn of events for the Whitney, since the museum has tried for 20 years to add onto its 1966 Marcel Breuer building. In July the museum finally completed the public approvals process and was allowed to go forward.

Leonard A. Lauder, the Whitney’s chairman, declined to be interviewed. “Our responsibility is to ensure the long term programmatic and financial health of the Whitney,” said Jan Rothschild, a museum spokeswoman. “It would be easy to forge ahead with the expansion on Madison Avenue. We have received the necessary approvals from the city, and our fund-raising is going extremely well, but we want to make sure it is the best option for the program and collection of the museum before moving forward.”

Board members are reluctant to discuss the High Line possibility, out of concern about offending the political officials whose support they will need to secure the site, those involved in the project say. Others spoke on condition of anonymity because the board had yet to vote on abandoning the Piano plan.

The board members are coming off a bruising battle with Upper East Side residents and preservationists over the Piano addition. The architect produced many drafts of his design for the tower, which would have been in a designated historic district, after the Landmarks Commission insisted that he halve the width of a new Madison Avenue entrance to preserve a historic brownstone.

In pricing out the cost of building a nine-story tower behind a row of historic brownstones, which would connect to the Breuer building through a series of glass bridges, the Whitney realized that the addition would add 16,000 to 20,000 square feet of exhibition space, when it had wanted 30,000.

Construction costs have skyrocketed since the museum started planning for Mr. Piano’s addition, now estimated at $200 million, which — with an endowment drive — would bring the fund-raising goal to $500 million. The excavation would have to be done from behind the brownstones, an expensive and logistically challenging proposition. By contrast, the excavation involved in renovating the Morgan Library and Museum — also designed by Mr. Piano — was done from within the library’s property.

Building at the downtown site would allow the Whitney to keep operating at its uptown location throughout the construction. To build the Piano addition, it would have been forced to close for two years, losing its presence at precisely the time that the New Museum of Contemporary Art was reopening in its new building on the Bowery.

The museum could sell the historic brownstones and use the proceeds toward constructing a building downtown. And the city might contribute funds for a downtown Whitney because it owns the site and has an interest in anchoring the High Line with a cultural attraction. The city had committed $8 million to the Dia project.


Dia had envisioned a two-story structure with 45,000 square feet of gallery space over two floors at a cost of $55 million, although the Whitney is expected to build something very different if it goes there.

Many arts professionals in the city are asking why the Whitney is considering other options after spending so much time, effort and money fighting for the Piano expansion.

This is not the first time the Whitney’s expansion plans have foundered. The board scrapped a $37 million design by Michael Graves in 1985 and a $200 million design by Rem Koolhaas in 2003.

Its institutional reputation too has encountered rough spots. Adam D. Weinberg was hired as the Whitney’s director in 2003, the third in six years. Two museum board members resigned in the aftermath of controversy, including L. Dennis Kozlowski, who was convicted of looting Tyco of $150 million, and Jean-Marie Messier, who resigned as chief executive of Vivendi Universal because of the company’s poor performance.

Other museums in Manhattan, meanwhile, have been in the spotlight with successful expansions, like the Museum of Modern Art’s new $858 million building and the New Museum’s current $50 million construction project.

If expansion is a way for the Whitney to reinvent itself and remain competitive, this recent turnaround, viewed in another light, could be seen as realistic and responsible.

As museums across the country build additions by celebrity architects, many are now struggling with the larger operating budgets that accompany expansion. The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, for example, recently decided against excavating under its garden courtyard to create new space and will instead pursue a more modest expansion.

Speaking of the Whitney, Kate D. Levin, the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, said, “It is highly responsible to take stock of whether this is the right step for them, given what they found out about what the building would look like and what it would cost.” At the High Line site, at 820 Washington Street, at Gansevoort Street, the Whitney could establish the downtown outpost that many in the art world have long said the museum should have, a hip, more youthful presence suitable to its mission as the artists’ museum.

Now the Upper East Siders who vehemently opposed the expansion in their neighborhood are celebrating. In an e-mail message last week to fellow members of the Coalition of Concerned Whitney Neighbors, Edward Klimerman wrote, “Hope springs eternal.”


Correction: Nov. 1, 2006

An article in The Arts yesterday about the Whitney Museum of American Art’s pursuit of an alternative to the expansion of its Madison Avenue building referred imprecisely to the logistics behind the Morgan Library’s recent expansion. Construction excavation was carried out within the library’s property; it was not done from the street.
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Old Posted Nov 5, 2006, 2:48 AM
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That old OMA rendering looks like a scorpian ready to attack.
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Old Posted Nov 5, 2006, 1:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowbat
That old OMA rendering looks like a scorpian ready to attack.
Maybe they'll go back to something like that at the new location...(Newsweek)

Uptown Downtown Runaround
Renzo Piano was hired to design an addition to New York’s Whitney Museum—but scratch that, now he’s drawing up plans for a satellite museum downtown. Either way, he’s happy.




Renzo Piano in the atrium of New York’s Morgan Library & Museum, which he recently redesigned.
By Cathleen McGuigan
Newsweek

Nov. 2, 2006 - While museums around the country have been opening glamorous additions by star architects, the Whitney Museum of American Art can’t seem to get its act together. In 1985, the museum shelved a high-profile scheme by Michael Graves (the guy most famous today for creating products for Target) to expand its Marcel Breuer-designed museum on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Then in 2003, the trustees cancelled plans for a much-ballyhooed addition by the avant-garde Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (his design was so over the top it was never actually unveiled). So it was a little shocking when word leaked out that the museum may well back out of a third plan for an addition—this one by the brilliant Italian Renzo Piano, whose scheme called for a quietly elegant nine-story tower to join the brooding granite Breuer building via glass bridges.

The Whitney had spent more than a year defending the Piano design against neighborhood opposition and finally won zoning approval from the city last summer—though some of the museum’s neighbors then filed a lawsuit to try to block the project.

A Whitney spokeswoman confirms the museum is now looking into constructing a satellite building in Manhattan’s ultracool downtown meatpacking district rather than expanding on its current tight site, though a final decision hasn’t been taken by the board of trustees. And here’s the good news: this time the Whitney isn’t dumping their architect but inviting him to create the design for a new site.


NEWSWEEK’s architecture critic Cathleen McGuigan spoke with Piano about what it’s like to go back to the drawing board.

________________________________________________________


NEWSWEEK: How did you find out the Whitney may not build your current design after all the approvals were won?

Renzo Piano: A short time ago, in September, I was asked, how do you feel about moving, going somewhere else? So then I went to the possible new site—and this is a beautiful piece of land, down by the meat market, a big open space—between the High Line [an abandoned elevated rail track that is being converted into a parklike esplanade] and the Hudson River. It’s big enough to make something very different, very generous. I like that place, including the meat smell! It’s full of energy. Of course, my first reaction was sad, when you spend a couple years struggling, and dreaming, about a scheme, and finally you may end by not doing it.

But you were immediately asked to design a new building?

Yes, yes, that was absolutely clear. Everybody, actually, asked me. I found that very nice, the fact they said that part of the possibility of this depends on your availability to be the architect.

What’s the reasoning behind considering another site? Is it about escalating costs to build on that difficult site uptown?

The truth is that, a couple months ago, somebody started to wonder about staying there because, fundamentally we got the permission, but now a group is making legal action again. The atmosphere is so basically hostile, it is like growing flowers in bad earth. It’s incredible. Everybody started to wonder about this atmosphere.
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Old Posted Nov 28, 2006, 5:09 PM
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NY Times

Whitney’s Expansion Plans Are Shifting South, to the Meatpacking District



Whitney Museum is planning a branch at the High Line park


By CAROL VOGEL
November 28, 2006

A month after the Dia Art Foundation scrapped its plans to open a museum at the entrance to the High Line, the abandoned elevated railway line that the city is transforming into a public park, the Whitney Museum of American Art has signed on to take its place and build a satellite institution of its own downtown.

The Whitney recently reached a conditional agreement on Wednesday night with the city’s Economic Development Corporation to buy the city-owned site, at Gansevoort and Washington streets, officials at the museum said yesterday. Plans call for the new museum to be at least twice the size of the Whitney’s home on Madison Avenue at 75th Street, they said, and to be finished within the next five years.

The deal, which has still to go through a public review process before it is final, puts an end to the Whitney’s plan to for a nine-story addition by the architect Renzo Piano that would connect to the museum’s original 1966 Marcel Breuer building via a series of glass bridges. It will be the third time in 11 years that the museum has commissioned a celebrity architect to design a major expansion to its landmark building, only to pull out.

“This is a more prudent step to take,” Leonard A. Lauder, chairman of the Whitney’s board, said by telephone yesterday. “Yet it is an adventurous step. We think the new site will have a big enough impact so that it will become a destination.”

The museum’s director, Adam D. Weinberg, said the new museum would not only offer more gallery space but would also be less expensive. “We know it will be cheaper per square foot than uptown, but we don’t know what it will cost,” he said. (The uptown expansion was expected to cost more than $200 million.) Mr. Piano has agreed to design the new museum. Although no architectural plans have been drawn up, the future museum is loosely estimated to afford at least 200,000 square feet.

Kate D. Levin, the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, called the agreement “a wonderful moment” but cautioned, “It is a preliminary moment.” If all goes as planned, she said, “it will let a museum grow and flourish” as well as provide an anchor to the city’s High Line project.

In addition to attracting a broader audience, having a site downtown will allow the museum space to build larger galleries without the constraints of building in a historic district. Sweeping galleries are generally needed to show much of the latest art being produced today.

Compared with around 65,000 square feet of gallery space in the uptown Piano addition, the High Line site will have about 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of gallery space, Mr. Weinberg said. The current Breuer building has some 30,000 square feet.

Mr. Lauder said: “The key word here is footprint. We will be able to stage shows horizontally rather than vertically.” Previous uptown expansions jettisoned by the Whitney include a $37 million addition by Michael Graves canceled in 1985 and a $200 million design by Rem Koolhaas scrapped in 2003.

Mr. Piano’s project met with heated opposition from preservationists who objected to the elimination of brownstone facades on Madison Avenue, part of the Upper East Side Historic District. After the Whitney agreed to maintain that facade, the project was approved in July by the city’s Board of Standards.

In addition to a second site the Whitney is also planning to upgrade the Breuer building significantly, with improvements like new, double-glazed windows and a better climate control system, Mr. Lauder said.

“The Breuer building is now 40 years old, and a lot of technology has happened since it was built,” Mr. Lauder said. “It is our iconic building, and we are planning to put a lot of money into it.” While he said it was too early to say just how much “a lot” is, he estimated the cost of refurbishing the building at $20 million to $40 million.

While taking note of the creation of dual-site museums like the Tate in London and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Mr. Weinberg said the Whitney was hoping to invent a model of its own. “We are envisioning both sites will show contemporary and historic art,” he said.

The Whitney will continue to devote itself to American art, he said, but “it will be American art in the broadest sense seen within an international context.” In addition to providing room to spread out, he added, the downtown space will allow the museum to keep adding to its collection.

Mr. Weinberg said the museum intended to strengthen its performing arts, education and film programs, which will all be based downtown.

While Dia had planned to lease the downtown site from the city, the Whitney’s deal calls for buying 820 Washington Street and 555 West Street, abandoned shell structures adjacent to each another. The city will charge the Whitney roughly half the appraised value of the two buildings, said Jan Rothschild, a spokeswoman for the Whitney.

“We like the character and the grittiness of the neighborhood,” Mr. Weinberg said of the meatpacking district. “We want to keep the museum as low as possible.” Plans call for about 15,000 square feet of meat market space as well as offices for the High Line in the complex.

Rather than dwell on the death blow to the Piano addition, Whitney officials sought to portray the move as a homecoming of sorts. The institution, which began in Greenwich Village in 1918 as the Whitney Studio Club, became the Whitney Museum in 1931.


“We’re returning to our roots,” Mr. Weinberg said. “So much of the first half of our collection was made around 14th Street and below, and so many artists whose works we have live within a 20-block radius. We see this as reconnecting with the artists’ community.”
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Old Posted Dec 31, 2006, 8:09 AM
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Newsday

NYC history museum's expansion plan meets opposition

December 30, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) _ A history museum is looking to its future, and the plans are making some neighbors nervous.

The New-York Historical Society is proposing a $20 million renovation of its landmark museum and library on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The plan calls for a fifth story on the society's roof and a glass apartment tower behind it to help pay for the project.

The society got proposals from eight developers this month, and it has raised the potential expansion with the city Landmarks Preservation Commission. Changes to the building's exterior require the commission's approval.


"We do have a need to grow," said society President Louise Mirrer. She said the expansion would allow space to reorganize galleries and collections and would help the 202-year-old institution stay afloat financially.

But the plan is meeting opposition from neighbors, preservationists and at least one city council member. They say the glass tower wouldn't fit its venerable surroundings on Central Park West.

"For historic reasons, a glass tower is wrong," said Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who represents the area. Mirrer said the glass tower was only "a place-holder." She added that the society would have a say in choosing the architect.


Some local residents also see the society's plan as a mark of an uninvited transformation.

"Our membership is concerned about the changing character of the West Side. People feel they are being steamrollered," said Joseph Bolanos, president of the West 76th Street Park Block Association. He said it had 100 members.

The city and state may be able to impose restrictions because they contributed more than $25 million to previous improvements.

"If it is not a necessary change, and it vitiates a taxpayer investment, we're not going to do it," said city Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin.

Mirrer pledged that the society would be "absolutely scrupulous" about keeping its commitments to the city.

The historical society maintains a collection of more than 60,000 objects and artworks, as well as 3 million books, photographs, prints and maps. Highlights include John James Audubon's watercolors for "Birds of America," according to the society's Web site.

Community opposition has stalled previous expansion plans, but not all neighbors are against the latest proposal. David Berkowitz, who owns a townhouse next to the vacant lot on West 76th Street where the tower would go, said it might make the street safer.


New-York Historical Society: https://www.nyhistory.org/
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Old Posted Jan 1, 2007, 7:58 AM
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slatin report



Chelsea Arts Tower, designed by Kossar & Garry Architects, will open in January on West 25th Street.


NYC 11 06 06
THE ART OF THE ART DEALER DEAL

Beth ONeil

The developers of a glitzy new commercial gallery tower in Manhattan's gritty West Chelsea arts district say their building will help the district forestall the typical fate of edgy art-world neighborhoods. But chances are just as good that their creation could be a catalyst for pricing boho types out of this transplanted SoHo.

It’s a familiar story in once-emerging, art-driven neighborhoods. Retail rental rates move up as the residential and tourist base grows and becomes more affluent. Luxury retail chain tenants can afford the new order, while the leading-edge galleries and restaurants that helped create the draw in the first place are forced to close and migrate elsewhere. Sometimes, even those galleries that can afford to hang on relocate anyway. The mix of retailers and hordes of tourists and non-art shoppers obliterates the culturati ambience that provides an intellectual edginess and promotes a successful buzz in the airy spheres of high art. But the success of small, scrappy galleries that pay relatively low rents and can take chances on unproven talent is critical to the art world.

More than a decade ago, many galleries in SoHo, New York's legendary arts district began migrating north to West Chelsea, where the rents were affordable and there was ample, raw and gritty space in warehouses and industrial buildings; a new cultural milieu took root there in short order.

Now, the new twenty-story Chelsea Arts Tower is rising at 545 West 25th Street in the heart of what’s been dubbed “Gallery Row"; the neighborhood is home to approximately 300 small to medium-sized galleries. The tower's developers say that, for gallery owners, it offers a prophylactic solution to the cycle of neighborhood re-pricing that would inevitably force them to move yet again: Let the galleries buy their own space.

It was obvious, say the group that conceived Chelsea Arts Tower - developers Bass Associates and Young Woo & Associates along with brokers Stuart Siegel and Alan Weisman of Grubb & Ellis – that the demand from gallery owners was there. “We spent time in focus groups and ultimately determined that the market would support the building,” says Jack Guttman of Bass Associates. They have sold all but one floor, according to Siegel. Prices per square foot for one of these floors range from $650 to well over $1,000, he says.


Designed by architect Alan Garry of Kossar & Garry Architects with a lobby by renowned gallery and museum architect Richard Gluckman, Chelsea Arts Tower, which topped out earlier this year and is expected to receive its first tenants in January, is the tallest commercial building in West Chelsea, accordingt o Siegel. Open floor plates, designed specifically for gallery and artistic use, range from 3,100 to 4,700 square feet. Each floor has eleven-foot ceilings with full-height windows to allow for maximum light exposure. The concrete and glass building has three over-sized high-speed elevators (which will open horizontally), ideal for transporting contemporary mega-works. Along with the high ceilings, the builidng's minimal columns and reinforced walls are all geared to supporting and displaying oversized artwork.

The roster of blue chip dealers that have already staked their claim on space in the building is led off by Marlborough, widely recognized as one of the world’s leading contemporary art dealers, which will occupy 9,500 square feet on the first two floors of the building and is effectively the building's anchor. Marlborough, founded in 1946, will be keeping its flagship 57th Street gallery and closing one on 19th Street; it did not commit to the project until the end of 2005, well into construction. Tina Kim Fine Art, also currently located on 57th Street, has purchased the third floor, and Siegel says that a deal for a non-profit arts organization to buy the 15th floor should happen “any day.”

But the story takes an interesting twist: Fashion maven Calvin Klein has purchased the 18th floor for a reported $4 million for his new company office. Siegel claims “strong interest from other fashion entities as well.”

Is Chelsea Arts Tower a model for how gallery owners can halt the pernicious rent hikes that drive them to search for greener – or cheaper, funkier – pastures? John Cacciola owns the J. Cacciola Gallery, which was formerly located in SoHo and now sits 500 feet from the new tower. “A prestigious building coming in to house galleries is fine,” he acknowledges. “If I had the money, I would buy. They are certainly not giving it away.” Indeed, smaller galleries like Cacciola that currently rent in the neighborhood are not likely to be able to afford the tower. They hope the new model won’t drive up their rents.

The move to sell space to galleries isn't as pioneering as it might seem, say local real estate sources. The big galleries that arrived early In Chelsea made sure to buy their space rather than rent – they had learned their lesson from the SoHo experience. Already, there is a feeling in the local art scene that Chelsea will not suffer the same fate as SoHo, at least not to the same extent. Still, many galleries, large and small, are still renting, and rents are headed in only one direction for the foreseeable future.

Despite his trepidations, Cacciola also sees the benefits of the building and its ground floor tenant. “The foot traffic should be terrific for business," he says. "People will find galleries here they never knew existed.” Owen Gray, an established artist who’s long been showing his work at the Blue Mountain Gallery located on 25th Street, agreed with Cacciola. “It could attract people, but I think it will be a mixed blessing," he says. He also added that the building that previously occupied the site “was an eyesore among a row of beautiful brick buildings.”

Developer Young Woo of Young Woo & Associates says the project sprang from a similar sentiment. “We wanted the Chelsea Arts Tower to have the lighthouse effect. People can look up and say, ‘Hey, there’s the Chelsea Arts District.’ ”

Woo, Siegel and Guttman all say worries about West Chelsea becoming the next SoHo and losing its small-gallery population to rich retailers are unfounded. SoHo and West Chelsea are completely different real estate animals, they insist. “SoHo lends itself to retailers moving in. But you really have to make a point to get to West Chelsea,” Siegel says. “I’m not sure if retailers would be interested in moving to Chelsea because there isn’t as much traffic.” Woo adds that they don’t want to create another SoHo. “Galleries were buying. We listened. That’s the main difference from SoHo. We couldn’t build out, so we wanted to go up as high as we could to provide as much space as possible.”



The building in construction.
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  #10  
Old Posted Jan 1, 2007, 4:09 PM
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i saw this one on emporis cool tower wish it was taller though.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jan 3, 2007, 5:45 AM
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MoMA to Gain Exhibition Space by Selling Adjacent Lot for $125 Million




A view of the vacant lot MoMA is selling to Hines, an international real estate developer based in Houston.




An aerial view of the vacant lot MoMA is selling.



By CAROL VOGEL
January 3, 2007

Capitalizing on Manhattan’s robust real estate prices, the Museum of Modern Art is selling its last vacant parcel of land in Midtown for $125 million to Hines, an international real estate developer based in Houston, the museum’s director said yesterday.

As part of the deal Hines is to construct a mixed-use building on West 54th Street that will connect to the museum’s second- , fourth- and fifth-floor galleries, said the director, Glenn D. Lowry. He said the project would afford about 50,000 square feet of additional exhibition space for the Modern’s painting and sculpture collections.

A Hines spokesman said it was too early to say what the building’s other uses would be.

The property is one of several the Modern acquired during the last decade in mapping out an ambitious expansion. A glass-and-steel addition designed by the architect Yoshio Taniguchi was completed in November 2004.

Hines also plans to provide about 10,000 square feet in the new building’s basement for museum storage.

After construction expenses for the new galleries are covered, the Modern estimates that some $65 million will go to its $650 million endowment.

“This is a Christmas present,” Mr. Lowry said. “It’s a tremendous boon to enhancing what is already an extraordinary collection.” The 10 percent addition to the endowment will go toward caring for the collections and acquisitions. No firm timetable for construction has been set, he added, but he estimated that completion of the new building was at least five years away.

In 1996 the museum bought the Dorset Hotel, a 19-story building from the 1920s next door on West 54th Street, along with two adjacent brownstones in a $50 million transaction. Much of that land was used for Mr. Taniguchi’s addition. That expansion, including an increase in MoMA’s endowment to cover operating expenses, cost $858 million in total.

The museum also quietly purchased other parcels on West 54th Street, including what had been the City Athletic Club, a brownstone and a sliver building next door.

Over the years, Mr. Lowry said, the museum has been inundated with offers from developers interested in buying the land, but did not seriously consider selling until recently.

“But as the market went into overdrive it seemed like the right move to make,” he said. The Modern put out the word that it was open to offers and the response was overwhelming.

Hines was the highest bidder, Mr. Lowry said. “We ultimately settled on Hines because of its financial offer and because it has a good reputation for working with architects,” Mr. Lowry said. He added that no architect had been selected to design the new building or the Modern’s additional galleries.

When Mr. Tanaguchi conceived his design he took into consideration a possible future expansion to the west, Mr. Lowry said, making it structurally easy to break through to what will be the new building and extend each of the three gallery floors by about 17,000 square feet.


Jerry I. Speyer, a Modern trustee and real estate developer who is president and chief executive of Tishman Speyer, helped negotiate the sale. (He was instrumental in the purchase of the Dorset Hotel, too.)

“The museum is not in the real estate business, but in the business of showing art, collecting art and educating people about art,” Mr. Speyer said. “Because of the figuration of the land, there was a limit to the amount of space we could use for galleries.”

He said that the entire board agreed that now was the time to act. “Everyone felt great about the decision,” he said of the sale. “There were no issues in anyone’s mind.”

The parcel as a whole consists of about 200,000 square feet of buildable space, Mr. Lowry said.

The addition also opens the way for the museum to address wide criticism of the exhibition spaces in the Taniguchi building. When the Modern reopened in 2004 many faulted its curators for showing fewer artworks in its expanded galleries than it had before.

“The goal has always been to display the collection better,” Mr. Lowry said. Responding to the criticism, he said the display of art in the museum’s previous incarnation was “overly dense,” which people felt was “too much like a textbook.”

Trying to anticipate the museum’s needs for contemporary art display is not easy. Mr. Lowry said the new galleries would be designed to be flexible.

“We envision them to include space that will deal with the unanticipated changes of the future,” he said.

And whereas MoMA had to close its doors on West 54th Street during the 2002-04 building project, operating a temporary museum in Queens, Mr. Lowry said that would not be necessary this time.

“The construction of these galleries will not entail closing the museum again,” he said.
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Old Posted Feb 2, 2007, 8:31 PM
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Posted on curbed.com

Historical Society Throwdown on the UWS



The New York Historical Society brought their proposed renovation plans to the community last night, and the community came out in force to object to their hi-rise plans. A Curbed tipster was in attendance and reports:

Big community meeting last night at the Unitarian church on the Upper West Side across from the NY Historical Society. The Society came to talk to the neighborhood about its $15 million renovation, but said little about what they called the "second project," the potential high-rise condo they would build right off of CPW and 76th. That angered almost everybody there since no one objected to the museum part, but everyone turned out to vent against the hi-rise. Bill Moyers, a neighborhood resident, got a standing ovation when he told a museum rep that he could only support the museum renovation if the Society promised not to build the hi-rise.

He [Moyers] argued that once that space off CPW was gone "you can never get it back." The Society was definite in its response: they said flatly to Moyers that it could make no such promise. They have sent out RFPs to developers and promise to return to the nabe when they have something definite to discuss about the hi-rise, or even if they will have one.
I bet, that is when the sparks will really begin to fly.


The Society's Strategic Plan has all the details on the renovation. We can't wait for the Starchitect naming and eventual showdown with the Landmarks commission.

https://www.nyhistory.org/web/defaul..._pr&id=3026490
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Old Posted Feb 2, 2007, 9:29 PM
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On the Town, Sized Down, Jazzed Up



East River views: David Strauss of the Queens Museum of Art on the New York City Panorama.




A small world after all? At the Queens Museum of Art, a panorama built for the 1964 New York World’s Fair has been revitalized.



By COREY KILGANNON
February 2, 2007

There is a spot in New York City where you can watch the dawn blush over Jamaica Bay in Queens and slip swiftly down the shore to Coney Island in Brooklyn, then hop across New York Harbor to suburban stretches of Staten Island.

As the Bronx begins to bustle and Manhattan jolts to life, the chirping of birds gives way to the snort of street sounds and taxi horns. And then a smooth voice-over reminds you that the city is “the center of civilization.”

This virtual New York City sunrise comes courtesy of the Queens Museum of Art, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and can be experienced once an hour from any vantage point on the balcony walkways around the perimeter of its New York City Panorama, which has been closed since October for renovation and reopens Sunday with a newly installed audiovisual accompaniment presentation.

The panorama reopens with the museum’s new exhibition on Robert Moses, who had the panorama built for the 1964 World’s Fair. It became a permanent exhibit in the Queens Museum when the museum opened in 1972 in the fair’s old New York Pavilion building.

The panorama, the museum’s centerpiece, is widely known as the world’s largest architectural model of a city, and yet remains relatively obscure. Yes, there have been live tour guides and headphone tours, but for decades the extent of its presentation apparatus has been the aging dimmable house lights.

Museum officials have long wrestled with ways to revitalize the model and expand its possibilities. They even mused about asking New York developers and building owners to sponsor a model in the panorama in return for a little sign on it plugging the real building. (Are you listening, Mr. Trump?) They finally became sold on the benefits of adding a multimedia accompaniment, after seeing a temporary presentation created for the International Olympic Committee in 2005 to show how the city could be converted to an Olympic village.

“The panorama is by far our biggest attraction, and we really wanted to bring it to life and attract more viewers,” said the museum’s director, Tom Finkelpearl, who explained that the new equipment — with its ability to spotlight different parts of the city with audiovisual sideshows, could be adapted to give various types of New York theme presentations.

The model was built with incredible topological and architectural accuracy. Its roughly 895,000 tiny buildings, streets, parks and bridges are made mostly of wood and plastic and all built to scale, from bridge length to park acreage to skyscraper height.

The 321 square miles of the city’s five boroughs are sprawled over the model’s 9,335 square feet. An inch equals 100 feet, Far Rockaway is a jump shot from Central Park, and the 1,500-foot-tall Empire State Building is 15 inches. The beach at Coney Island is just over 13 feet long, the Staten Island ferry would travel 22 feet, and the Bronx Zoo covers 1,500 square inches.

The panorama, which lacks people, traffic, trash and other real-life elements, was originally built for $672,000. Other than a 1992 overhaul that modernized many of the low-rise buildings and added newer structures, this upgrade is its most significant. It cost $750,000, part of which was originally earmarked for a “Tribute in Light” to replace the 13-inch gray blocks that represent the twin towers. But tests indicated that the light would be seen only if there was dust in the air, so for now the blocks remain in place.

The new presentation equipment, a stack of computerized audio and sound equipment, sits high on a balcony. It is connected to video projectors, speakers, automatically controlled spotlights and a network of colored lights around the perimeter, near the ramp that affords viewers a bird’s-eye view of the metropolis.

Mr. Finkelpearl said the presentation recalled some of the original bells and whistles that accompanied the panorama when it opened at the World’s Fair and is meant to give viewers the feel of a helicopter ride over the city. Viewers rode in fake helicopter cars on tracks around the periphery of the model. Narration was provided by the newscaster Lowell Thomas (who uttered the “center of civilization” line).

One recent weekday Mr. Finkelpearl stood on the walkway for a demonstration of the 12-minute presentation about New York and Robert Moses and how the model was built partly to emphasize his accomplishments in consolidating the city with bridges and highways connecting the boroughs.

Each borough is spotlighted, as are the Hudson, Harlem and East Rivers. Ellis Island is lighted, and you can hear the sound of voices of the huddled masses. A strobe light depicts the chaos of Midtown Manhattan.

This is, after all, the Queens Museum, and the most fuss is made over Queens. The presentation includes audio and video clips recorded recently in specific ethnic neighborhoods like Jackson Heights’s Indian immigrant community and the Greeks and Arabs of Astoria.


Also on hand was Blagovesta Momchedjikova, a tour guide for the model whose enthusiasm for it has earned her the nickname “Queen of the Panorama.”

Ms. Momchedjikova, who helped develop the script, now teaches a writing class at New York University, using the model as an inspiration and subject matter for memories of New York. She wrote a 250-page doctoral dissertation on the model.

The embodiment of the ethnic mix of Queens, Ms. Momchedjikova is a Bulgarian immigrant who married a Senegalese immigrant, Mady Cisse, and they have a baby boy named Moussa, the Senegalese version of the name Moses.

She said she was excited about the presentation but emphasized that viewing the model also is a personal, meditative experience, a communion with your own personal New York, the cognitive model you have in your memory where all your memories — where you lived, worked, fell in love — play out.

“Most people want personal time with the model because it’s a big repository of all we’ve experienced in New York,” she said. “It gives us a tactile experience of where we’ve been and where we want to go.”
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  #14  
Old Posted Feb 9, 2007, 1:30 PM
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‘Museum Mile' Expands

By KATE TAYLOR
February 9, 2007

The Museum for African Art yesterday unveiled the design for its future home on Fifth Avenue, at the northeast corner of Central Park, to an audience that included Mayor Bloomberg and the Manhattan borough president, Scott Stringer. When it opens in 2009, the museum, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, will be the first new major arts institution on "Museum Mile" since the Guggenheim opened in 1959.

"Because of the incredible diversity of New York, I've always said that you can see the world on a single subway fare," Mr. Bloomberg said at the unveiling, held at the Guggenheim Museum. "Now you can see the world's art on a walk down Fifth Avenue."

The location, between 109th and 110th streets, will put the Museum for African Art at the "symbolic crossroads where Harlem meets Museum Mile," its director, Elsie McCabe, said. The building will occupy 90,000 square feet, with 16,000 square feet of gallery space, a restaurant, a theater, an education center, conservation and storage facilities, and a dramatic roof garden overlooking 110th Street. Ground will be broken in the spring, and the museum will open in its new building in 2009, which will be its 25th anniversary.

The museum is on a capital campaign to raise $80 million, which will include $10 million to create an endowment. With gifts from trustees, $12 million from the city, and the sale of air rights to the developers of a residential tower that will rise above the edifice, the museum has so far raised almost $50 million.

The museum, which was founded in 1984 to promote appreciation of African art and culture, has spent the past two decades in rented spaces on the Upper East Side, in SoHo, and, most recently, in Long Island City. Its exhibitions have traveled to institutions around the country and abroad. In its new building, for the first time, the museum will have a home for its permanent collection and for its extensive education programs.

The journey to yesterday's announcement was a long one, revealing both the power and the perils of arts-business partnerships. The museum was originally going to develop the Fifth Avenue site, which consists of five lots, with Edison Schools Inc. Edison was to relocate its headquarters there, and build a flagship school with an Afrocentric curriculum based in part on the museum's educational programs. But in 2002, Edison saw its stock price plummet, and it pulled out of the partnership. That left the museum with a short time in which to buy both the lot Edison owned and the four adjacent cityowned lots.

A $9 million loan from the Community Preservation Corporation, led by Michael Lappin, enabled the museum to move quickly on purchasing the lots. Later, with the help of the chairman of the museum's building committee, John Tishman, it found new partners in the residential developers Brickman Associates and Sidney Fetner & Associates. By selling them the air rights to build a 19-story condominium — picture it as a Museum Tower for East Harlem — the museum was able to defray the costs of the land, as well as the construction and development.

Like those at Museum Tower, which rises above the Museum of Modern Art, the units in the condominium will be market-rate. "We paid nearly $17 million for all the land," Ms. McCabe said. "The only affordable housing is for the museum's home."

The addition to Museum Mile of a museum dedicated to African art and culture is a major event, the New York City cultural commissioner, Kate Levin, said. Museums "play a psychological role: They help us map out what culture is, what aesthetics are," she said.

The museum's education programs at its new home will include a semester-long afterschool program called "Passport to Africa," in which students will come to the museum one day a week to learn about African art and culture. Part of the program will involve studying a replica of an African village, town, or city, which the museum will construct and reinstall twice a year.

Ms. McCabe acknowledged that museums of Western art do not make so much effort to put their collections in a cultural context, since that context is familiar to most of their audience. But children "learn comparatively little about Africa, to the point that many still ask us if there is electricity in Africa, do people wear clothes," Ms. McCabe said, while adults associate Africa with war, famine, and plagues. The museum seizes every opportunity to change such stereotypes, she said. "Pride in being African-American and respect for those who are, is made easier if there is a fundamental appreciation of Africa — its art, its culture, its past, its future."
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Old Posted Feb 9, 2007, 1:36 PM
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Museum for African Art Finds Its Place



Designs were unveiled Thursday for a building by Robert A.M. Stern that will be the permanent home for the Museum for African Art, on Fifth Avenue at 110th Street. It will be the first museum built along Museum Mile since the Guggenheim, 1959.




A rendering of the lobby of the new home for the Museum for African Art.



By SEWELL CHAN
February 9, 2007

The Museum for African Art, which has had a nomadic existence since it opened in 1984, will finally gain a permanent home in a soaring new building designed by Robert A. M. Stern, on Fifth Avenue between 109th and 110th Streets, officials announced yesterday.

Models and renderings of the new structure, which will face the northeast corner of Central Park, were unveiled at a news conference at the Guggenheim Museum, some 20 blocks south of the site.

Presiding over the event, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hailed the project as “the first new construction of a museum on Museum Mile since the great Guggenheim opened in 1959.”

With 90,000 square feet, including 16,000 square feet of exhibition space, the building will give the Museum for African Art a long-coveted base, said Elsie McCabe, the institution’s president. Officials hope to break ground in the spring of 2008 and complete construction by the end of 2009.

The estimated cost is $80 million, of which $49 million has been raised, including $12 million from the city.

A tower of 115 luxury condominiums will be built above the museum, under a partnership between the museum and two developers, Brickman and Sidney Fetner Associates. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the structure will be a shimmering glass wall made up of what Mr. Stern’s firm calls “dancing mullions,” after the slender vertical members that form the division between window units

At the museum’s center will be a great hall entered from Fifth Avenue, with the mullions on the left and a soaring wall on the right, made of richly colored etimoe wood from Ghana, that curves upward to form the ceiling.


The wall “suggests, if you look at it, the woven shapes of baskets and so forth — and weaving is so much a part of African art,” Mr. Stern said in an interview. “It’s not a literal interpretation. It’s an abstract one.”

At the rear, a cylindrical enclosure sheathed in perforated copper that Mr. Stern likened to a drum will house a staircase. Mr. Stern, who is dean of the Yale School of Architecture, called it a “21st-century version” of the concrete stairwell enclosures at Louis I. Kahn’s Yale University Art Gallery, considered a Modernist masterpiece.

The New York firm SCLE Architects will work with Mr. Stern on the project.

He noted that his other works of public architecture — the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.; the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, an ornithology center in Jamestown, N.Y.; and a planned American Revolution Center at Valley Forge, Pa. — have revolved to some extent around a personality.

“This, like the Rockwell, is a major art museum, but it’s not built around a person, but around a continent,” Mr. Stern said. “It takes Africa out of the museums of natural history where it sometimes is — and also out of museums of the modern art.” He noted that over the last century, African masks and figures have sometimes been displayed as if their function were to inspire the Cubism of Braque or Picasso.

Founded as the Center for African Art in 1984 by Susan Mullin Vogel, now a professor of art history at Columbia University, the museum gained broad recognition for its innovative conceptual approaches to exhibiting African art.

It occupied two adjacent town houses on East 68th Street before moving to rented quarters in SoHo in 1993. Around 2000, Ms. McCabe arranged a partnership with Edison Schools, the for-profit education company, to buy a parcel on Fifth Avenue from a housing developer. (She said the site had once housed a low-rise commercial building.)

Plans called for Edison to build a school and a corporate headquarters on the site while providing space for the museum to build a structure for itself. In 2001 the company’s stock price nose-dived, and it abandoned the project in 2002, shortly after the museum had moved to a temporary location in Long Island City, Queens.

With a loan from the Community Preservation Corporation, the museum secured the land from Edison by 2003. Then, with help from two of its trustees — John L. Tishman of the Tishman Realty and Construction Corporation and Jonathan D. Green of the Rockefeller Group Development Corporation — the museum arranged a partnership with the two developers, Brickman and Sidney Fetner.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation recently arranged the sale of four other parcels to the partnership, clearing the way for the work to begin.

Mr. Stern said the challenge was to design a museum with “a strong civic public identity within the larger framework of a commercial apartment house — and at the same time, to make a building that is glassy and open, but not a knee-jerk glass block.”

Ms. McCabe said: “We knew if anybody could marry us distinctively with a residential building, he could. And God bless him, he did.”

A Harvard-trained lawyer who worked for Mayor David N. Dinkins from 1990 to 1993, Ms. McCabe has led the museum for nine years. She oversees a staff of 18 and an annual budget of roughly $3 million.

The museum has organized about 55 exhibitions, many of them traveling across the United States and so far to 17 other countries. It has published more than 40 books and provided teacher training and curriculums to more than 350 schools.

Although the museum has eschewed collecting in favor of borrowing works from other institutions, it does plan a small permanent exhibition at the new site.

“We’re a small museum that’s populated by zealots,” Ms. McCabe said. “We not only want to introduce children and adults to the beauty of African art, we want to introduce them in a variety of ways to the beauty and the majesty of the people who created it too.”
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  #16  
Old Posted Feb 23, 2007, 6:54 PM
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i didn't see the new museum posted anywhere.
i have been walking over every week or so to see the progress.
the bowery is changing fast.

http://www.newmuseum.org/now_new_initiatives.php
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Old Posted Feb 23, 2007, 7:00 PM
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i am very interested in the cooper union project too.

http://www.arcspace.com/architects/m...operunion.html
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2007, 8:27 PM
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Historical Society Loses Round in Fight to Renovate a Landmark

By GLENN COLLINS
March 7, 2007

In a stormy two-hour meeting before 200 neighborhood residents last night, the New-York Historical Society was rebuffed by Community Board 7 in Manhattan, which resoundingly opposed the group’s proposal to renovate the exterior of its landmark building at 170 Central Park West.

The board voted 40 to 2 against a plan that would replace the society’s eight-foot-wide doorway, built in 1908, with a 40-foot glass entryway and granite portico at the main entrance between West 76th and 77th Streets.


Because the board is an advisory body, its decision does not block the renovation.
But as a signal of strong community opposition, the vote could carry weight with the New York City Planning Commission and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is likely to hold a hearing on the plan this month. Both groups have veto power over the project.

Louise Mirrer, the historical society’s president, said the community board inappropriately linked the renovation plan to the construction of a 23-story luxury residential tower that the society has proposed as an addition to its four-story building.

“I’m disappointed,” Dr. Mirrer said, adding that the community board’s vote, if used as a precedent, “would prevent any landmark anywhere from ever doing anything new.”


Kate Wood, executive director of Landmark West, an Upper West Side preservation group, said that the historical society’s project “deserves to be stopped in its tracks.” She described it as “a Trojan horse” for the luxury tower and added, “Please don’t open the gate.”

Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, said he could not take a position for or against the plan. “But we should call it what it is,” he said. “It’s going to be a large tower. It’s not about phase one tonight — it’s about what comes after the facade.”

Dr. Mirrer argued that the renovation is essential to make the building more inviting and its exhibitions more accessible, and, she added, that it might be years before a tower could be approved. But Peter M. Wright, co-chairman of the Park West 77th Street Block Association, termed the design “an ill-conceived facade.” The tower, he said, would intrude upon the Central Park skyline and cast a shadow on the park itself.

“I’m pleased,” Mr. Wright said of the vote, adding that it was a step toward defeating the tower plan.

For weeks, preservation groups that oppose the renovation had been e-mailing their members to attend the meeting, held in an auditorium at the American Bible Society at West 61st Street and Broadway. The society, meanwhile, had been exhorting its members to lobby elected city officials to support the plan.

The debate — which followed an hour of discussion on other projects — was punctuated with catcalls and applause. The society’s plan proposes changes not only to the Central Park West entrance, it also would de-emphasize the West 77th Street entrance and reconfigure existing windows there for the construction of a cafe.

The opposition of the community board “bears the hallmark of a group that has campaigned against the historical society,” Dr. Mirrer said. “Of course we will press on.”
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  #19  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2007, 11:34 AM
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NY Times

On the Bowery, a New Home for New Art



Officials at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, which is moving from SoHo, say the new building on the Bowery will change the face of the Lower East Side when it opens at the end of the year.

By CAROL VOGEL
March 28, 2007

NAMING rights for a museum’s grand spaces are part of the deal for valued donors these days. But when the New Museum of Contemporary Art began its capital campaign for a $50 million building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the bathrooms were the first places to be christened.

“I’m 83,” said Jerome L. Stern, a retired venture capitalist, “and I thought it would be nice to see my name in a place where I’m going to spend a lot of time.”

As a result of his generosity, the museum’s four public bathrooms will be the Jerome and Ellen Stern Restrooms. While Mr. Stern would not say exactly what they cost, he said the price tag was in the six figures.

At institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art, such a check may get you an invitation to a fancy dinner or a peek at a private art collection with one of its curators, but it would not get your name on so much as a filing cabinet. Nonetheless, the art world uptown is paying close attention to the New Museum’s building rising on the Bowery. When it opens at the end of the year, its jutting, silvery configuration will be an architectural landmark for New York City and another addition to the cultural building boom sweeping the country.

But beyond the concrete and steel, the New Museum shows how a lesser-known institution can attract attention by taking chances. It hired an adventurous team of architects. It has diversified its board of trustees. It is doubling its staff, bolstering its exhibition schedule and greatly expanding its education activities.

Combine that with the museum’s re-energized mission — to showcase the newest art — and the result is an institution that poses a bold challenge to established museums. With the contemporary art market boiling over as newly rich collectors compete at fairs, auctions and galleries, the New Museum will be a ready-made hive for dealers, clients and the Prada-clad art-world swarm that follows them. For artists, having works on display there could bring faster recognition and probably higher prices.

The image of scrappy contender extends to the trustees, who like to say they are “shirt-sleeve, not black-tie” and delight in flouting the conventions of older museums.

Lisa Phillips, the museum’s director, spent 23 years as a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art before joining the New Museum in 1999. She “has put together a board with people other institutions have wanted to get on their boards,” said Arne Glimcher, chairman of the PaceWildenstein Gallery. “But they choose the New Museum because they sense the energy and commitment.”

She has also attracted prominent talent to work with her, like Massimiliano Gioni, a curator at the most recent Berlin Biennial; Richard Flood, the former chief curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; and Laura Hoptman, a former curator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

For the opening exhibition in the new building, the three curators are putting together an international sculpture show.

Ms. Phillips’s credentials are not too dissimilar to those of the founder of the New Museum, Marcia Tucker, who started it in 1977, the day after she was fired from her position as a curator at the Whitney. Her dismissal came just two weeks after the closing of a Richard Tuttle exhibition, at the time one of the Whitney’s most provocative.

The New Museum first opened in a poky office space on Hudson Street and then moved several times. Its new home, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Tokyo firm Sanaa, will be a seven-story 60,000-square-foot building on the site of an old parking lot at 235 Bowery at Prince Street, a dramatic configuration of irregularly stacked boxes clad in shiny metal. The museum will have more than twice its previous exhibition space, as well as a floor for educational activities, a 200-seat theater, a cafe and a bookstore.

In the gazetteer of small New York museums, the New Museum is racing to the top of the page. The Dia Art Foundation lost its most generous donor last year when Leonard Riggio resigned from the foundation, and it has no place in Manhattan to mount exhibitions after closing its two Chelsea spaces in 2004. The Drawing Center, without a director for a year, is moving from its SoHo home to a former Fulton Fish Market site near the South Street Seaport.

“It’s not about the money, its about the people; that’s why we’ve been so successful,” said Saul Dennison, the longtime president of the New Museum. “Everyone is passionate about contemporary art, and everyone on the board actually likes each other.”

Larger institutions require people to make multimillion-dollar donations to get on a board, but at the New Museum a candidate has to prove a commitment to contemporary art and the ability to get along with the current trustees. Being a board member requires a minimum annual contribution of $25,000 as well as a six-figure check for the building campaign, although several trustees stretched into the seven figures, Ms. Phillips said. Trustees say they have many more people wanting to join the board — which Ms. Phillips has expanded to 35 from 18 — than will ever win a place.

Before asking someone to join the board, members want prospective trustees to become involved with the museum by joining a museum committee, which often involves participating in museum-organized trips.

“We like to spend time getting to know the person before getting married,” Ms. Phillips said. “Our expectations are completely different than, say, the MoMA board.”

One trustee, James-Keith Brown, started his association with the New Museum in the mid-1990s by joining the producers council, a $5,000-a-year benefactor group that does things like visiting artists’ studios and taking trips led by the museum’s curators. He recalls that as a young contemporary art collector, he found it an entertaining group that offered a good opportunity to meet like-minded collectors.

“At the time, I was also working on the young collectors group at the Guggenheim,” he said. “But this was different. It showed me a new way of looking at things.”

With the hedge fund professionals fueling the market for contemporary art, it would be easy to fill a board with young Wall Street wizards. But the museum’s board isn’t just made up of financiers like Mr. Brown — or of New Yorkers. The trustees are an international group ranging from collectors in their early 40s to people in their 80s, from retailers to curators.

The board spent a year scouring the city for its new home. “It wasn’t till we saw the empty parking lot on the Lower East Side that we knew we’d found the spot,” Ms. Phillips said. “The board saw the potential before I did. They saw right away how consistent it was with the museum’s mission. They loved the fact that the neighborhood was rough and the street was languishing, and that it was a major avenue with easy subway access.”

Knowing how much to spend was the first order of business. That meant knowing what the museum could get for its previous home in SoHo. (In 2002, it sold for $18 million.) The New Museum was able to buy the Bowery site for $5 million. That meant it had to start a capital campaign drive to raise an estimated $64 million to cover the building and endowment. To date, more than $60 million has been raised.

Unlike, say, the Whitney, MoMA or Dia, which have all had one or two supergenerous leaders writing unusually big checks to carry a project, the New Museum does not have what it calls “the 500-pound gorilla.”

“This is a group that has its eye on the ball,” said Stephanie French, a board member who was the head of philanthropy at Philip Morris and now works in wealth management at U.S. Trust. “It’s a self-examining group. We know we need to be realistic, and as the budget grows, we realize we’ll have to keep raising money.”

When she founded the museum, Ms. Tucker decided it should buy works and sell them 10 years later so that its collection would always be new. It was an innovative plan that was never carried out. The museum now has a modest collection of about 1,000 works in many media. Ms. Phillips said that while it did not consider itself a collecting institution, it will add to its collections through gifts and commissions.

Many on the board think that not having a large collection is a big advantage. For starters, it’s difficult for a museum dedicated to new art to have a collection. “We want to always be on the cutting edge,” said Dieter Bogner, an independent museum curator from Vienna. “It’s a building for the future, the next generation, unlike most museums, which are a place to see the past.”

William E. Ford, who is in the private equity business and has been a board member for two and a half years, said: “When you look at programs at MoMA, the Whitney or the Guggenheim, they all need to mount blockbusters to support their buildings. The gravity of their collections is a lens through which they see themselves. Since we’re not bound by these constraints, it allows us to concentrate on our programs.”

Mitzi Eisenberg, a trustee who was one of the founders of Bed Bath & Beyond, said she was proud that the museum took risks. “We’ve given a chance to artists many people had never heard of, like Richard Prince and Jeff Koons,” she said. Now they are superstars.

Ms. Phillips said the museum planned to continue exhibiting new talent and underrecognized artists, giving many their first opportunity to be shown in a museum.

Officials at the museum also say that once the new building opens, it will change the complexion of the Lower East Side, just as its presence changed SoHo in the early 1980s, when it provoked a rush of galleries to Broadway.

“It will become an exciting place to go,” Ms. Eisenberg said.

With growth comes the fear that the museum may become more like others — a larger place with a bigger building and even more ambition — which could mean losing its edge and settling in to middle age.

Paul T. Schnell, a Manhattan lawyer and longtime board member, sees the challenge ahead. “We can’t become a victim of our own success,” he said. “We’re all very conscious that there’s a risk of losing our edge. It’s something the board and the staff worry about. So much so, that we’re all committed to making sure that that won’t happen.”
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Old Posted Apr 25, 2007, 8:39 PM
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Bloomberg

Farewell Chelsea? New Museum Begins to Draw Galleries to Bowery

By Michael Killeen
April 25 (Bloomberg)

A 160-foot-tall pile of big, stacked boxes clad in zinc-plated steel is rising above the fire-escape tenements and restaurant suppliers of Manhattan's Bowery. The New Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by the Japanese firm Sejima & Nishizawa/SANAA, expects to move into its new home by the end of the year. But the anomalous structure is already exerting a pull.

Around the corner on Freeman Alley, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, who operates Salon 94 gallery out of her townhouse on the Upper East Side, is renovating a 1,400-square-foot space to show art. The architect is Rafael Vinoly, who also designed her gallery uptown.

``The New Museum, in my mind, is going to be a major cultural destination. And so we will be a small space to visit at the same time,'' said Greenberg Rohatyn, adding that she runs a ``boutique-based business, always a little off the beaten track.''


Her new gallery, which will keep the original concrete floors and wooden beams, plans a soft opening this summer, with an official debut in September.

Why didn't she join the more than 300 galleries in Chelsea, Manhattan's major contemporary-art destination? ``It is hard to distinguish oneself in that area unless you have a super- gallery,'' Greenberg Rohatyn said. Downtown costs are a third of Chelsea, she added, ``although I see that is going to change very quickly.''

Those prices may hold for an alley location but vary around the Bowery.

Bowery Rentals

Space on the Bowery from the New Museum at Prince Street down to Delancey Street is about $85 a square foot, according to Nathan Stange of Susan Penzner Real Estate. Rents are ``more established going west,'' he said, reaching $125 to $150 a square foot on Spring and Prince streets.

Realtor Susan B. Anthony, whose firm focuses on galleries, said ground-floor space in Chelsea, if you can find it, ``is going for $80 to $85 a square foot.'' Available upper-floor gallery space, she said, ranges between $35 and $40 a square foot in Chelsea but awaits development in the Bowery area. Spaces east of the Bowery are $60 to $80 a square foot, she said, getting more expensive the closer they are to the New Museum.

Dealer Christopher Henry almost took Greenberg Rohatyn's Freeman Alley site. Then he found a two-story brick building with a low stoop on nearby Elizabeth Street he preferred.

Younger Clients

Henry opened his first gallery on West 29th Street in 2005, though rising rents and disappointing foot traffic on his stretch of north Chelsea compelled him to rethink his location. He liked the younger buyers he attracted when he exhibited at the recent Scope fairs in Miami and New York. Those clients not only responded well to the emerging artists he represents but supported his idea to move downtown.

Henry wanted a gallery with architectural character. The long-vacant annex to a Ukrainian Orthodox Church is now strewn with rubble, though the $100,000 conversion, he said, will leave the almost 20-foot peaked ceiling as it is: ``This space is too good to clutter up.''

One of this area's draws, Henry said, is that it's a real, lived-in neighborhood, with a history, convenient transportation and plenty of restaurants.

Henry has resided near the Bowery since 1986, when it was, he said, ``a ghost town.'' It's now thriving, though he thinks the museum will cause a seismic shift.

``The New Museum broke ground, the steel was going up -- this was a different kind of feeling, a different bell ringing,'' Henry said. ``I just kind of knew this was where I needed to be.''

The New Museum of Contemporary Art plans to open in late 2007 at 235 Bowery, at Prince Street, Manhattan. Information: +1-212-219-1222; http://newmuseum.org .

(Michael Killeen is an art writer for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the reporter on this story: mkilleen5@verizon.net .

Last Updated: April 25, 2007 00:05 EDT
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