Yesterday, DS+R announced in their proposal for MoMA's redesign that the American Folk Art Museum would have to be demolished. Backlash from the #folkMoMA community quickly arose: architects and critics called the choice callous and unsustainable, outraged not only by the Folk Art Museum's destruction but also the design that would take its place, and its impact on New York's (and DS+R's) reputation.
We've gathered a slew of responses to the proposal, both indignant and accepting, from Archinect contributors and beyond, and will be following developments closely. Here are a few of those thoughts:
From the Archinect news post, American Folk Art Museum will be razed in Diller Scofidio + Renfro's MoMA expansion:
Donna Sink: "All of DSR's previous work is tarnished by this."
Darkman: "This solidifies Rem Koolhaas as the best architect-thinker of our time, for his original MoMA proposal, "MoMA, Inc." "
thebeigecity: "As for the Folk Art Museum - it was cramped and cloying, overly sentimental and specialized. Yes, the new addition is boring but its by DS+R so there will be some LED lights or video screens or transgressive performance space or single surfaces or bad formalism or some other techy knick knacks tacked on - don't worry, it will all be ok and nothing more."
jla-x: "The grime was NY. It was its character. The folk art building had some of that brutalness that was fitting. The dsr project is sterile. Generally speaking, Ny is a sad sterile shell of what it once was. Its a plastic surgery victim that removed her charming idiosyncratic features to achieve some phony image of perfection and ended up losing her unique beauty and looking like all the other plastic people."
Other news publications:
Jerry Saltz for Vulture: "Somewhere inside me, I heard myself saying my good-byes to MoMA. I thought, I have seen the best modern museum of my generation destroyed by madness... From the days both the new MoMA and the American Folk Art Museum opened, it was clear to almost all in the art world that they were tragic failures in terms of their primary missions. Now those disasters are joined forever."
Justin Davidson for Vulture: "But that hesitancy shows in the provisional design for the next phase. The client is bent on art-world domination; the architects seem halfhearted. Instead of healing the scar left by the Folk Art Museum, they have left a gleaming gap."
John Hill for Archidose: "Ultimately the Williams Tsien design was too small and inflexible (like I said, not a surprising move) to work for MoMA, regardless of Diller's specious words about integrity. As sustainability and the need to preserve buildings increases, so does the need to be creative about how buildings are reused. In this case the creativity is nowhere to be seen."
Statement from the Folk Art Museum's architects, Williams and Tsien, via the architects' website: "We have learned of MoMA’s final decision to raze the former American Folk Art Museum building and replace it with a new structure. This action represents a missed opportunity to find new life and purpose for a building that is meaningful to so many.
The Folk Art building was designed to respond to the fabric of the neighborhood and create a building that felt both appropriate and yet also extraordinary. Demolishing this human‐scaled, uniquely crafted building is a loss to the city of New York in terms of respecting the size, diversity and texture of buildings in a midtown neighborhood that is at risk of becoming increasingly homogenized.
This is a building that we and others teach from and about. It has served as an invaluable learning resource for students, colleagues and scholars, and a source of inspiration for many more. It has a powerful architectural legacy. The inability to experience the building firsthand and to appreciate its meaning from an historical perspective will be profoundly felt.
As architects, we must be optimists. So we look to the future and we move on."
Paul Goldberger for Vanity Fair: "So why not let the matter go? Not every preservation battle is won, and the museum and its architects have produced a long list of rational reasons why they don’t feel that saving this particular building is practical. But as art isn’t always a rational matter, sometimes architecture isn’t, either. The brooding, somber façade of the folk-art museum, made of folded planes of hammered bronze, combines monumental dignity with the image of delicate handcrafting, and it is a majestic, if physically small, architectural achievement. A city that allows such a work to disappear after barely a dozen years is a city with a flawed architectural heart. A large cultural institution that cannot find a suitable use for such a building is an institution with a flawed architectural imagination.
The Williams and Tsien building is also the last remnant of something approaching reasonable scale on West 53rd Street, a block that seems ever bigger, ever more corporate, ever less diverse. Tearing down the folk-art museum may make sense by MoMA’s measure of things, but it is hard to see how it makes New York a better place. "
Robin Pogrebin for the New York TImes:
"Despite the plan’s broad scope, the museum said it could not yet provide a budget, making the viability of the redesign hard to measure.
MoMA officials said they would need to raise all the money privately because the museum is not a city-owned institution. “This is now a much bigger project than we had envisioned,” Mr. Lowry said. “We have to figure out how to cost it out.”
Alexandra Lange (architecture and design critic) @LangeAlexandra: "I thought museums had woken up from the bigger-and-bigger dream. Not in NYC."
AlJavieera Tropics (geographer and adjunct professor) @AlJavieera: "MoMA needs to demolish a building to create seamless entry for luxury condo tower into the museum."
Mimi Zeiger (journalist and critic) @loudpaper: "MoMA will survive the #FolkMoma fiasco, but will DS+R?"
Christopher Hawthorne (architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times) @HawthorneLAT: "This should be good: shortlist for new Vancouver Art Gallery includes both antagonists in #FolkMoMA fight: DS+R and Williams/Tsien."
Karrie Jacobs (writer) @KarrieUrbanist: "Forget it, Jake. It's real estate."
Michael Kimmelman (architecture critic for the New York Times) @kimmelman: "If MoMA had treated Folk as architecturally worthy, like objects in its collection, the question of demolition couldn't have arisen."