by Rakks | November 14th, 2012
New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art has a new exhibit. It’s more of a room really, a pop-up education center for art classes and other participatory and hands-on events. After the Whitney sold its neighboring buildings last year in preparation for a 2015 move to its new Meatpacking District digs, there was a noticeable lack of creative programs and space.
With still a few years left before the move, the museum decided to bring in a temporary solution. The studio’s Breuer building location, of course, meant that this was going to be no orthodox “temporary solution”. The building has a long history of displays designed to cause extreme rubbernecking for unsuspecting passers-by.
Museum officials looked no further than Manhattan’s own LOT-EK architects, specialists in shipping container architecture. Devoted to sustainable architecture, principals Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano have a history of “upcycling” shipping containers and other disregarded materials into their designs.
They do not seem limited by their materials however, as the Whitney creation is as stylish as it is just plain cool. The futuristic look of the black exterior with green slanted glass is balanced by the sleek and minimalist white interior.
The pop-up shipping container studio couldn’t be constructed within the museum, so a rather complex series of steps had to be carried out. The containers were altered and designed in New Jersey, shipped to the museum, dropped one by one into the moat of the Breuer building by crane, then secured together. The floor beneath the studio had to be braced to avoid a collapse into the storage room below. See a video of the installation, as well as an interview with LOT-EK and others involved, here.
Rakks shelving was perfect for this modern space, being included in both levels of the studio. Rakks was brought into the equation by the project’s contractor, Andreas Scholtz of the construction firm Craft Workshop. Having suggested Rakks products for a previous LOT-EK collaboration, he knew they would be a great fit for the Whitney project.
“The Rakks design is what resonates with architects,” says Scholtz, “It is very minimal and blends in well with a modern aesthetic. For me, the importance lies in the functionality. It is very much a plug and play system which is easy to install and adjust. Clients are always very happy, and that is the end goal.”
Scholtz enjoys working with materials outside of their intended application, which is why he enjoys working on projects with LOT-EK.
“Their projects are the epitome of why I got back into construction – to be challenged beyond the normal standards…When I look at some of the photographs from the Whitney Studio, the containers, metal stair, wall panels, angled windows and Rakks shelves – it does all come together.”
All photos by Michael DePasquale Photography.