Whitney Museum adds $40M to budget to storm-proof new Meatpacking District home

June 27, 2013 12:30PM

Planning the new home for an art museum does not typically focus on waterproofing walls or tracking down a hydro-engineering firm that makes watertight hatches. But to protect against another Sandy-level storm, the Whitney Museum has increased its capital goal by $40 million to pay for floodproofing measures at its new home, currently under construction in the Meatpacking District, the New York Times reported.

Adam Weinberg, director of the Whitney, had a quick lesson in the perils of being unprepared for a hurricane when Sandy hit this past October, flooding the basement of the museum’s new home, a block from the Hudson River.

Accordingly, the Whitney’s northern glass wall will be waterproofed, the loading dock and west entrance will have watertight doors designed by flood barrier manufacturers Walz & Krenzer and the building will have a temporary barrier system – an aluminum wall with steel footings that can be assembled quickly around the perimeter.

The building, designed by Renzo Piano, is expected to be completed in 2015. Weinberg said 77 percent of the $760 million price tag for the project has been raised so far, with about half the additional funds pegged for flood mitigation and the other half to cover unexpected costs.

“It’s the worst thing that ever happened to us and the best thing,” Weinberg said, referring to Sandy. “We will now have a building in which we can be assured that the art will never be at risk.”

The new building, at the corner of Washington and Gansevoort streets, will be a temple of American art and a model of storm protection, he said. [NYT]Julie Strickland