Dezeen Magazine

The Met leaves Marcel Breuer building

The Met's Breuer building to host Frick Collection during renovation

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art intends to vacate its Marcel Breuer-designed building, giving the Frick Collection a home during its controversial overhaul, and revive its plans for David Chipperfield's extension to its Fifth Avenue location.

The Met is planning to transfer its Met Breuer programme back to Fifth Avenue in 2020, allowing the Frick to temporarily move in when the major renovation work commences on its historic Upper East Side building, just blocks away.

The move would enable the Frick to keep its collections, exhibitions, library resources, and education programmes open to the public during the overhaul. It is unclear what will happen to the Breuer building after the Frick moves out.

"The Frick has been exploring ways to ensure that our visitors can continue to enjoy our collections and have access to our library resources and education programmes, as we look forward to the renovation of our home," said the art museum's Ian Wardropper.

The Met has revealed plans to give the Breuer building to the Frick Collection during its renovation. Photograph by Ed Lederman

"Collaborating with The Met on a temporary initiative at the Breuer building would enable us to do just that, a mere five blocks away, during a time when the Frick would otherwise need to be closed completely to the public."

The Met took over and renovated Hungarian architect Breuer's landmark concrete and granite building to create a satellite location for contemporary and modern art.

Met "to reengage" with Chipperfield's scrapped extension

It moved in two years ago, after plans were revealed to construct a new wing for contemporary art at the Fifth Avenue site six blocks away.

British architect Chipperfield was chosen to design the extension in 2015, but the project was halted two years later due to cutbacks, the Architect's Newspaper reported. The Met now plans to revive the scheme as part of a strategy to consolidate its programming.

The museum currently uses the satellite space to exhibit its contemporary and modern art collections. Photograph by Ed Lederman

"Two years ago the prudent course was to prioritise our large capital projects – enabling us to begin the long overdue replacement of skylights for the European Paintings galleries – and to build a financial path toward a balanced budget," said The Met's Daniel H Weiss in a statement.

"With this critical work well on its way, and [Met director] Max Hollein's arrival, we are now ready to reengage with architect David Chipperfield's plan for expanded and improved Modern and Contemporary galleries."

Museums help to preserve city's important modernist architecture

The Breuer building switch follows a similar exchange in 2016, when The Met took over the brutalist structure from original occupant, the Whitney Museum, which left for its new Renzo Piano-designed home in the Meatpacking District.

Orchestrated by art collector Leonard Lauder, the transition was commended by Alan Brake in an Opinion column for Dezeen for giving the city a "major new museum almost overnight" and saving an important mid-century building.

The Met's in-house design team worked with local firm Beyer Blinder Belle on a series of subtle renovations to reconfigure the interiors of the Breuer structure ahead of its reopening in 2016.

Frick exchange follows renovation controversy

The deal with the Frick follows controversy surrounding its Selldorf Architects-designed renovation and expansion, which has received opposition from preservationists since it was unveiled in April 2018.

The Frick Collection by Selldorf Architects
The Frick would move when work commences on the renovation designed by Selldorf Architects

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the scheme two months later, despite major protests against the "harmful" plans to alter the original Russell Page design.

A previous proposed extension by Davis Brody Bond was abandoned in 2015 after artists protested against the plans to build on the museum's green space.

Photograph of Met Breuer is by Floto+Warner.