CONTINUITY CONCEPTS: WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
Protecting priceless art isn’t easy – and when said art is a stone’s throw from the Hudson River, it’s even tougher. That’s why New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art is taking extra precautions with the help of museum flood protection expert
Scott Newman, FAIA, Partner at architecture and urban
design firm Cooper Robertson. Its emergency and continuity plans include:
■;Staff briefing: Building operators understand when
and how to implement multiple protection systems
built into the facility, including large flood gates that
close off street-level openings. The most vulnerable
parts of the building are pre-defined so that after an
emergency, staff can focus on restoring operation to
critical areas first.
■;Facility planning: Art exhibits start on the third floor
except for one small gallery in the lobby that’s easy
to move. Instead of priceless artwork, the ground
floor hosts a restaurant and ticketing desk and the
second floor hosts an auditorium, education center,
classrooms and offices. “It was a conscious decision to elevate the artwork,” Newman explains.
“We also don’t have any collection storage in the
basement because we were concerned about
potential flooding there.”
■;Emergency operation drills: When the 6-foot
barrier wall was constructed, the staff completed
several mock drills to learn how to construct, break
down and store the barrier. “As staff changes over
time, the new staff also need to be trained and
ready to implement that system,” Newman says.
“The staff needs to be constantly prepared and
well-informed on the features of the building that
protect it from severe weather.”
■;Weather tracking: The museum is vulnerable to
hurricanes, which typically come with some warning, Newman says. Staff members monitor storm
tracking and follow procedures laid out in a manual
about how far ahead to deploy the barrier system.
THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART (above) uses a wall system barrier as an
extra layer of support during flood conditions (top left), as well as custom-designed
floodgate doors at the truck and entryways (bottom left).