Lower East Side Mega-Project Includes New Andy Warhol Museum

Could New York City get more pretentiously artistic than it already is? The answer is yes. There’s always room for more art in this city than anywhere else in the world.

Could New York City become even more arts-friendly in the not-too-distant future? The answer is yes. There’s always room for more art in this city than anywhere else in the world.

The Bloomberg administration, which recently provided financing for an affordable rehearsal studio for Long Island City performing artists, is planning to add an Andy Warhol museum in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The new institution will serve as an outpost for The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, where the artist was born in 1928, and it will be developed as part of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) initiative that aims to completely transform a 1.65-million-square-foot undeveloped area consisting of nine sites at the corner of Essex Street and Delancey Street in Manhattan’s historic Lower East Side neighborhood.

A $1.1 billion investment by a joint venture comprised of L+M Development Partners, BFC Partners and Taconic Investment Partners, the mega-project named Essex Crossing will be developed in five phases over several years under plans designed primarily by SHoP Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle. As detailed in a press statement, the anticipated groundbreaking of the project is spring 2015. Essex Crossing will include a community center run by Grand Street Settlement, a rooftop urban farm, micro-retail spaces, a school operated by the Educational Alliance, 250,000 square feet of office space and 1,000 housing units, half of which will be permanently affordable for low-, moderate-, and middle-income households and senior citizens.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the new Andy Warhol art museum will be located in an area that was home to working-class immigrants until 1967, when 2,000 residents were evicted by the City to make room for new housing and retail. When completed sometime in spring 2017, the new museum will have only 10,000 square feet—less than one eighth of the space currently occupied by The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, which was opened in 1994 as the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist.

Known as the “Pope of Pop” for his immense contribution to the Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol (born Andrej Varhola to Czechoslovakian immigrant parents) moved from Pittsburgh to New York in June 1949, shortly after he graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in pictorial design. Soon after he made Manhattan his home, Warhol established himself as an acclaimed graphic artist by working for the most important fashion magazines, creating album covers, designing retail ad campaigns or painting iconic American objects—Campbell’s Soup Cans, dollar bills, Coca-Cola bottles—and celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor or Jackie Kennedy.

Rendering courtesy of New York City Mayor’s Office via Flickr

Andy Warhol,  Self-Portrait, 1963-1964 via www.warhol.org