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On Assignment: New York City’s new Whitney Museum

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Last Thursday, I was commissioned to photograph the almost finished new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.  The Whitney is moving from Museum Mile on the Upper East Side to the Meatpacking District and will open in May 2015. The downtown terminus of the High Line is right out the front door and the Hudson River is visible out the back door.  The Whitney’s new 200,000-square-foot museum is designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and the six-floor white structure includes an 18,000-square foot exhibition gallery — the largest column-free gallery in the city.

My client, Post Road Iron Works,  made the custom grand staircase to the architect’s plan. It is a stainless steel, painted steel and cable structure running the full height of the 6 floors plus basement. The center of the stairway stack is currently hung with an artwork piece consisting of  6 strands of lightbulbs, each 100 feet long. It made a great focus for my photographs of the stairway.

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Post Road Iron Works, from Greenwich, Connecticut, is one of those treasures of the American industrial landscape. Family-owned, it has been fabricating residential and commercial railings, stairs, fences, and canopies since its founding in 1927.  They did all the railings at the new Yankee Stadium, the Ground Zero 9/11 Memorial, and Lincoln Center.

At the Whitney, I had to find angles that would show off the iron work, as well as make an interesting photographic statement. Since it is a construction site, we had to work around all the tradesmen, continually cleaning up dust and fingerprints. Here, my assistant and I line up a shot from the basement looking to the roof. You can see how the light string ‘puddles’ on the floor.

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From the ground floor lobby, the staircase has clean lines, cool tones, and a hard-edged modernist sensibility.

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And a close-up of the streamlined stainless steel itself.

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So when you visit the new Whitney Museum take a moment to appreciate not only its artwork, but its fine details, too.