Renderings of the Whitney downtown provided by the Whitney Museum.

0804whitney.jpgIn March it was announced that The Whitney received a generous donation from Leonard A. Lauder (to the tune of $131 million). The donation came with a caveat -- they wouldn't be able to sell their Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue; however, it looks like they received the funding they needed to move forward with a satellite museum in the Meatpacking District.

The downtown building, pictured, was designed by Renzo Piano and is set to be larger than the 32,000-square-foot Madison Avenue outlet; with 50,000-square-feet of gallery space spanning six floors. In addition to the gallery space, there will also be a restaurant, cafe, bookstore, education facility, research library and a multi-use space.

The NY Times architecture critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff, calls it a "contemplative sanctuary," and warns that "its bold chiseled form won’t appeal to those who prefer architecture to be unobtrusive." He also adds that the 3rd floor gallery, "at 17,500 square feet, will be the largest column-free space for viewing art in Manhattan."

The Whitney's downtown site will be at Gansevoort and Washington Streets, though final negotiations are still underway. If all goes as planned, construction will start next year and be completed sometime in 2012.