Architects to MoMA: Don't destroy Williams/Tsien project
American Folk Art Museum in NYC is slated to be razed to make room for an expansion; prominent designers protest.
Richard Meier, Thom Mayne, Steven Holl, Hugh Hardy and Robert A.M. Stern are among the prominent architects who on Monday called for the Museum of Modern Art to reconsider its decision to demolish the former home of the American Folk Art Museum.
“The Museum of Modern Art—the first museum with a permanent curatorial department of architecture and design—should provide more information about why it considers it necessary to tear down this significant work of contemporary architecture,” the letter said.
“The public has a substantial and legitimate interest in this decision, and the Museum of Modern Art has not yet offered a compelling justification for the cultural and environmental waste of destroying this much-admired, highly distinctive twelve-year-old building.”
Earlier this month, MoMA announced that it would raze the building – which it purchased in 2011 – and replace it with an expansion that will connect to a new tower. The building’s architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, have expressed their disappointment with the decision and a number of others in the profession have publicly registered protest.
The open letter was written by the Architectural League of New York, a nonprofit organization, and signed by members of its board of directors. The folk art museum has relocated to a smaller space on the Upper West Side.
MoMA said in a statement that it would not comment on the letter at this time.
In an interview last week, Barry Bergdoll, MoMA’s chief curator of architecture and design, said the decision was not an easy one. “It’s incredibly painful to see a really significant building go,” he said. “The conclusion reached makes sense for the future evolution of this complex of buildings and coming up with something that can really show off this collection to its greatest effect.
“Here’s a building that was made for an incredibly important folk art collection that was abandoned by that museum,” Mr. Bergdoll continued. “It’s a kind of bespoke suit for folk art that has tremendous obstacles. You can’t punch walls in the side and expect it to still be the same space.”