David Rockwell’s Latest Restaurant for Danny Meyer Opens at Whitney Museum
by Nicholas Tamarin | Friday, May 20, 2011 | 1 Comment
White oak room dividers, communal tables, and felt-backed benches. All are elements of David Rockwell’s latest restaurant design for eatery entrepreneur Danny Meyer—unless they’re rolled away for one of the countless events that New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art holds in its formerly vacant subterranean space.
In order to uphold a mandate that they preserve the authenticity of architect Marcel Breuer’s iconic 1966 interiors, the Rockwell Group kept the original stone floor and concrete architecture of the building. They even installed chrome plated light fixtures to echo the existing lamps on the ceiling of the Whitney lobby.
Rockwell’s Midas-like restaurant touches are most prevalent in the bar, which is delineated by a large white lacquer frame complemented with more white oak for the bar top and chrome stools topped with cannoli-cream-colored leather seats.
“We wanted the design to complement Marcel Breuer’s architecture, and be an understated but contemporary environment,” says Rockwell. “This restaurant was not about making a bold design statement, it was about honoring a landmark, about creating a comfortable and streamlined space that would fit into the mid-century modern elegance.”
The decision to make everything “packable and portable,” as Rockwell says, may turn out to be even more prescient than originally thought—it was just announced that the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be taking over the building’s lease from the Whitney in 2015 when the latter moves to its new Renzo Piano-designed space in New York’s Meatpacking District.