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Secrets of the Modern Wing, Take Two

Part of the reason that the Modern Wing feels so harmonious is because, well, it is. And the secret behind that lies in one measurement: 6 ¾”, aka the width of the oak floorboards in the Modern Wing. That’s right—everything in the building is based around that one tiny measurement. Of course, not everything in the building is 6 ¾”, but everything is a multiple of that number. To lay it out for you:

6 ¾”
x2 = 1’ 1 ½”
x4 = 2’ 3”
x8 = 4’ 6”
x16 = 9’
x32 = 18’

Not that I don’t trust the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, but I decided to test this for myself. . . photographic evidence is below.

Width of a floorboard: 6 3/4"

Width of a floorboard: 6 3/4"


You'll have to take my word for it, but each of the large wall panels is 9' wide. . .


. . . and dividing each of the panels at exactly 4'6" are horizontal poles attached to the lighting fixtures. Also, as you look higher, each of the beams that divide the skylights are also 4'6" apart.


Here's a view of all of Griffin Court so you can get a better sense of the panels/skylights.


And it's not just the architecture that follows these rules. Here's a bench in Griffin Court. It lines up with the floorboards exactly, coming in at 2'3".


And here's one in the Balcony Cafe: 4'6"


Finally, I headed into the galleries and you guessed it. . . even this stand (holding de Kooning's Head #3) is 2'3" wide. Also, for our loyal readers, please note the "reveal" at the bottom, previously discussed here by Erin H.

As you can tell, everything was just as precise as I expected. So the next time you enter the Modern Wing and wonder why you feel so peaceful, remember it’s all in the math.