MoMA pulls back from plan to raze
former folk art museum


MoMA pulls back from plan to raze former folk art museum, photo by pov_steve

News: the Museum of Modern Art in New York is to reconsider its decision to demolish the former American Folk Art Museum next door following an outcry from architects, conservationists and critics.

In a board meeting yesterday, the museum's directors heard that design studio Diller Scofidio & Renfro had been selected to oversee MoMA's expansion and explore the option of integrating the former American Folk Art Museum into the plans.

Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA's director, told trustees and staff that the architects wanted to consider "the entirety of the site, including the former American Folk Art Museum building, in devising an architectural solution to the inherent challenges of the project."

Diller Scofidio & Renfro said the institution's directors had given the design team "the time and flexibility to explore a full range of programmatic, spatial and urban options."

"These possibilities include, but are not limited to, integrating the former American Folk Art Museum building, designed by our friends and admired colleagues, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien," the studio said in a statement.

MoMA had planned to demolish the neighbouring building and replace it with a glass-fronted structure linking the art museum's existing space on West 53rd Street with a planned 82-storey tower designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.

In its initial announcement last month, museum officials said the bronze-clad building had to be pulled down because its facade did not match MoMA’s glass aesthetic and its floors would not line up with MoMA’s.

Designed by US architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the American Folk Art Museum opened its doors just 12 years ago but was sold to MoMA in 2011 to pay off a $32 million loan.

The museum's collection of paintings, sculptures and crafts by self-taught and outsider artists now resides at a smaller site on Lincoln Square, further north in Manhattan.

MoMA's initial decision to tear down the building was met with disappointment by Tsien, who told the New York Times it was "a loss for architecture".

Later this year MoMA will host a major retrospective of the work of modernist architect Le Corbusier – see all news about MoMA and see more architecture in New York.

  • Such a shame that they were even discussing destroying a museum.

  • smack

    Still not definite at this point, of course. They say so themselves. It may still be on the table, who knows?

  • texxeen

    Raze it! Raze it already.

  • Joshua

    It could be a great diagram to keep the ‘outsider’ folk art museum outside of MOMA. Let MOMA fill in around and on top of it and keep the ‘outsider’ museum as a dark cut or mark on/into the art world.

  • Scott W

    Diller Scofidio & Renfro are fantastic at reinvigorating urban spaces without destroying valuable architecture that is already in place. I am hopeful that they will come up with an elegant solution that saves the Museum of American Folk Art that was designed by Tod Williams & Billie Tsien, while allowing MoMA to expand in a progressive and interesting fashion.

    However, I am curious as to why all of the parties involved love Jean Nouvel’s 82 storey tower, which is not only out of context but rather ugly, and why they are busting their asses to make MoMA fit within the context of Nouvel’s poorly designed tower (note: I am a fan of many of Nouvel’s works, but I find the design of his tower to be completely incompatible with MoMA, extremely ugly within the context of NYC, and quite frankly it looks like something that he spent 5 minutes sketching on some tracing paper that he then handed down to his minions to execute in an incredibly crass manner).

  • jef

    It’s a very ugly building.

  • This is great news. Disgraceful waste of money and resources to raze it.

  • gabe

    They should raze the New Museum and all the 'art' in there while they're at it. That building is a cheaply made eyesore.

  • Jadie

    Gorgeous little building, I thought. Subtle and clever use of facade. Although I’ve never seen it in person, I’ve always loved the pics I’ve seen. Would be a pity to just tear it down.