New York, New York | Axis Mundi has re-imagined the Whitney Downtown Museum with a
self-initiated proposal that is raw and provocative, and as bold in spirit as the original Breuer building on Madison Avenue.
Invisible Sight Lines Organize Program
The site is located at the beginning of the High Line, at the intersection of Washington and Gansevoort Streets. Axis Mundi sought to ground the new building in a web of historical axes which form and organize the program. The plan is based on a series of sight lines extending to 10th Avenue, the Empire State Building, the Whitney on Madison, and the location of the original Whitney on West 10th Street.
Galleries Suspended in a Lattice
A desire for column-free galleries led the architects to create a perimeter superstructure to contain the staircases, escalators, elevators, and mechanical rooms. This structural lattice allows the galleries to float freely, suspended like bridges, unimpeded by a typical grid structure. The lattice allows light to flood the building in unexpected and dramatic ways, heightening the visitor's perception of the artwork and the city.
Intermingling Urban Fabric
Maintaining vitality at street level and reducing the distance between the street and the art itself was an important consideration for the designers at Axis Mundi. Instead of designing a large vacant lobby, an informal intermingling of public and private space occurs on the street level plinth, creating a complex folding of the urban fabric. The plinth is populated by large-scale sculptures, an outdoor cafe bridge, an info kiosk, and a performance area. A continuous path, weaving in and out of the lattice structure, leads the visitor from the entrance ramp at the corner of Washington and Gansevoort up to the panoramic viewing deck, overlooking the Hudson River and the High Line.
John Beckmann, principal of Axis Mundi stated “We imagine the contemporary museum to be a dynamic environment - a space that is less a container and more of a conduit.”
Height: varies from 75 ft. to 175 ft.
Floors: 6 above, 2 below
Building Footprint: 39,000 sq. ft.
Usable square footage: 195,000 sq. ft.
Design Team: John Beckmann, Andy Vann, Denise Pereira and Marielle Vargas
Renderings: Viviane Liao and Andy Vann
Illustrations and Diagrams: Denise Pereira and Andy Vann
© Axis Mundi Design LLC