May 26, 2011
“Architectural strategies that would once have seemed bold now look secondhand, having been executed better elsewhere. The tilted canopy/ceiling slicing through a great glass wall recalls Lincoln Center’s new Alice Tully Hall, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The levitating gallery above a transparent base echoes the same firm’s Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Piano’s asymmetrical ziggurat nods to Gehry’s IAC headquarters a few blocks away, but the homage only highlights the disparity in the two architects’ imaginations.”
Davidson’s main argument is in the “missed opportunity of majestic proportions”: a bland corporate box of steel and glass that could be in Toronto or Seattle, a “glossy grayish tower, interlocked with a stack of horizontal blocks that step back in the manner of a clunky cruise ship.” Referencing the other new architecture gracing the High Line’s environs (WORKac‘s rooftop orb for Diane von Furstenberg, SHoP‘s incredible retrofit on Porter House, the Standard Hotel that straddles the elevated parkway), the Whitney’s new digs are “limp” in comparison. Instead of steel hearkening to a “modern fantasy of manufacturing,” we get “MoMA South, a thoroughly corporate museum—airy, spacious, efficient, and utterly sterile.”
This echoes our initial thought on the Renzo plan (see here for Axis Mundi‘s alternate proposal) — the remaining question is, how fair and accurate is it to criticize a building before it’s built? See you right back here in 2015, when we’ll unleash the invectives we’ve been storing up for four years.