For his New York debut, Renzo Piano has created a grand opening and some sympathetic connecting passages for the Morgan Library & Museum on Madison Avenue
Six years ago, the trustees of one of the world's finest collections of manuscripts asked one of the world's most famous living architects if he would design an extension. He accepted, and now Renzo Piano's first New York building has just been unveiled to the public at the Morgan Library & Museum on Madison Avenue.
The $106m (£55m) museum and centre for scholarly research now has an airy glass and steel entrance that offers visitors an inviting first impression of the cultural sanctuary. This leads into a glass-enclosed central court that, together with two smaller infills, connects three existing buildings. Besides the new entrance, the 6900 m² scheme provides a larger exhibition and storage space and, below ground, an intimate 280-seat auditorium. Lovers of precious books and classical music aficionados can also make use of a new restaurant and retail outlets to satisfy their more earthly needs.
Piano has shown for the New York cityscape the same respect that he had for the Swiss landscape when he designed the rolling hill-shape Klee Centre in Bern. His reverence for this site is expressed in the simple and pure lines of his design, which never seeks to overshadow the original buildings (which date back as far as the 1850s). The use of rose-hued, off-white paint subtly echoes the classical style in which the original buildings were designed. With his elegant touch the Genoa-born architect has given one of the Big Apple's much loved buildings a new life.
client: Morgan Library & Museum
design architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
executive architect: Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners
construction manager: FJ Sciame Construction
structural engineer: Robert Silman Associates
services engineer: Cosentini Associates cost consultant Stuart-Lynn Company