In a controversial move yesterday, the Museum of Modern Art announced that it will demolish a building it purchased in 2011?the former Museum of American Folk Art, which boasts an archicritically acclaimed bronze sculptural facade?in the name of enlarging its own facilities. The folk art museum's old digs, designed by New York-based Tod Williams and Billie Tsien (a duo that has worked on other high-profile projects), are just 12 years old. In December of 2001, shortly after it opened, a Times critic even called it a post-9/11 "Midtown icon."
The smaller institution at 45 West 53rd Street originally sold to adjacent powerhouse MoMA in order to pay off a hefty $23 million debt, and now operates from a smaller space in Lincoln Square. For its part, according to the NYT, MoMA officials believe that its expansion should keep with its current aesthetic: glass. The new tower will be designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.
Public reaction has been largely negative. Over in Archinect's open forum, one commenter, who serves as campus architect at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, wrote, "It's tragic. We need to start a thread on it and call for a boycott of the new project by all architects. If MoMA moves ahead with this I will never step foot in their museum again."
One expert told the Journal that he understands why MoMA needs to renovate the folk art museum's exhibition spaces in order to best use them for their own purposes. But really, most are sad that a groundbreaking structure built just over a decade ago that New Yorkers actually seem to like has to go.
· 12-Year-Old Building at MoMA Is Doomed [NYT]
· End Near for Former Home Of Folk Art Museum [WSJ]
· MoMA coverage [Curbed]