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American Folk Art Museum, New York, United States

Friday 10 May 2013

Hope for American Folk Art Museum?

American Folk Art Museum by Diller Scofidio + Renfro Architects in New York, United States
Image: Kathia Shieh 
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MoMA brings in Diller Scofidio + Renfro to plan expansion and reconsider demolition of American Folk Art Museum in New York 

In April the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York confirmed plans to raze the former American Folk Art Museum to make way for an expansion project. Reasons given for the decision included the stark bronze façade of the American Folk Art Museum not fitting with the MoMA glass aesthetic and the floors not aligning.

News now comes that Diller Scofidio + Renfro have been commissioned by MoMA to plan the expansion which is due to create an additional 10,000 sq ft of gallery space at the site of the former American Folk Art Museum and 40,000 sq ft at a 82-storey residential/gallery tower designed by Jean Nouvel. The complete scheme would comprise a cluster of 5 buildings and be developed by Hines.

A statement from MoMA Director Glenn D. Lowery reads: “Beginning this month, Diller Scofidio + Renfro will work with us to design a plan that will integrate the Museum’s current building with the property of the former American Folk Art Museum and the residential tower being developed by Hines.

“The principals of Diller Scofidio + Renfro have asked that they be given the time and latitude to carefully 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. We readily agreed to consider a range of options, and look forward to seeing their results.”

Designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and opened in 2001, the American Folk Art Museum was gladly welcomed by the city of New York despite critics’ concerns about the narrow widths of the gallery spaces. Following news from MoMA of plans to raze the building, petitions circulated the internet to save the building, signed by the likes of Robert A. M. Stern, Steven Holl and Richard Meier, and the pleas have clearly been heard by MoMA.

WAN’s New York-based US Correspondent Sharon McHugh penned a passionate article in April announcing MoMA’s decision, declaring that if the American Folk Art Museum be demolished, ‘New York will lose a signature work of architecture that has no equal in the city’. Given the thousands of signatures gathered on the online petitions, this is evidently an opinion shared by many.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro Architects

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