6. Whitney Museum
Completed in 1966, the Whitney Museum by Marcel Breuer, with its inverted granite pyramid and spacious galleries, was embraced with mostly positive reviews, touting its “stately cladding of warm gray granite” (architectural critic James T. Burns), “clarity, force, and perceptive organization” (art critic James R. Mellows), and “suavity of detailing” (Charles W. Millard).
Among the dissenters, the “Madison Avenue monster” was “aggressive, arrogant” (art critic Emily Genauer). As for the public, it was “the most disliked building in New York,” an opinion Ada Louise Huxtable acknowledged but rebutted.
It remains admired and disliked, because the two sides see different things. “I love the potted plaza below street level, and the little bridge” (architect Winka Dubbeldam in 2011); “it’s a grim place to exhibit art… It is particularly cruel to painting.” (art critic Mark Stevens in 1998).
In 1985, the Whitney Museum even released a much-derided expansion plan to add 10 stories to the museum, which was countered by the an unofficial competition for an alternative design led by the Storefront for Art and Architecture.
Grim or not, the art keeps coming. The Whitney left for a bigger space in 2014, leasing it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to which opened the Met Breuer, which will now sublease it to the Frick Collection, for a temporary stay, starting in 2020, when the Frick is under renovation.