MoMA to demolish Williams and Tsien folk art museum, photo by Dan Nguyen

MoMA to demolish Williams and Tsien folk art museum

News: the Museum of Modern Art in New York is to raze the former American Folk Art Museum next door just 12 years after its completion by US architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

The bronze-clad museum, which opened its doors in December 2001, will be demolished and replaced with a glass-fronted building linking MoMA's existing space on West 53rd Street with a planned 82-storey tower designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.

The American Folk Art Museum, which holds a collection of paintings, sculptures and crafts by self-taught and outsider artists, was sold to MoMA in 2011 to pay off a $32 million loan. It currently exists at a smaller site on Lincoln Square, further north in Manhattan.

While the MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry said the demolition was not a comment on the architectural quality of the building, the news was met with disappointment by Tsien, who told the New York Times she saw the building as a "beloved small child".

"It's a kind of loss for architecture," she said, "because it's a special building, a kind of small building that's crafted, that's particular and thoughtful at a time when so many buildings are about bigness."

The expansion across both the folk art museum site and the Nouvel building will provide MoMA with approximately 4600 square metres of additional floor space.

When Nouvel's tower is complete in 2017 or 2018, its second, fourth and fifth floors will line up with the same levels in MoMA's existing building over the road, but the art museum is still deciding what to put at ground level on the site of Williams and Tsien's building.

In January this year, the architects' Barnes Foundation art gallery in Philadelphia won an Institute Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.

A major retrospective of the work of modernist architect Le Corbusier opens at MoMA this June – see all news about MoMA and see more architecture in New York.

Photograph by Dan Nguyen.