Whitney Museum plans Downtown building

May 26, 2010 11:00AM

Leonard Lauder and the Whitney Museum of American Art

The board of the Whitney Museum of American Art voted unanimously yesterday to begin construction on a building in the Meatpacking district in Manhattan that will greatly increase the size and scope of the 80-year-old institution, the New York Times reported. Ground will be broken next year, with completion slated for 2015. The board also agreed to sell a group of brownstones adjacent to the museum’s Marcel Breuer-designed building on Madison Avenue and 75th Street, and its annex building around the corner on 74th Street. The sale will effectively end any chance of the museum expanding in its current space, where it has been since 1966. Without room to grow uptown, and without the income needed to run two locations, the Whitney now faces the question of what to do with its Breuer building. “There is no better time to build than now, with construction costs and interest rates at an all-time low,” explained Leonard Lauder, the Whitney’s chairman emeritus and largest benefactor. “Downtown is a new city, a new nation. Why shouldn’t the Whitney be the museum of record there?” [NYT]