American Folk Art Museum, opened in 2001, to be demolished

Just 12 years old, the museum designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien will be taken down to make way for MoMA expansion

April 11, 2013 |

The American Folk Art Museum by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien opened in 2001 to wide acclaim, thanks, in part, to its distinctive faceted, bronze façade.

But just 12 years after opening the building, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) plans to demolish the structure to make way for an expansion that will more seamlessly connect with adjacent MoMA buildings on the MoMA campus in Manhattan, according to the New York Times.

In 2011, MoMA purchased the building from the struggling folk art museum, which was millions in debt due to lower-than-expected attendance and investment losses stemming from the recent recession.

Museum officials claim that because the building is set back farther than the other buildings on the property, the floors cannot be aligned. In addition, its solid façade does not meld with the mostly all-glass enclosures on the museum campus.

In an interview with NYT, Tsien said she was "really disappointed" by the announcement and called the move a "loss for architecture," especially because the building is an increasingly rare example of a small yet well-crafted structure.


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