Museum of Modern Art to demolish American Folk Art Museum, architects oppose move

By Daniel S Levine,

The Museum of Modern Art announced plans earlier this month to demolish the American Folk Art Museum, which is just 12 years old. A group of architects are now voicing opposition to the move.

According to The New York Times, MoMA made the decision on April 10, despite the praise that the design by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien has received. It is a sliver of a building on West 53rd Street, adjacent to MoMA, which purchased the building in 2011. The museum is now looking to expand and the building will be its first victim, since its design clashes with the overall glass outside look of MoMA.

Almost immediately, the architectural community was shocked by the decision. The Times reported today that Richard Meier, Thom Mayne, Steven Holl, Hugh Hardy, Robert A.M. Stern and other architects have signed a letter asking MoMA to cancel its plans.

“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, released by the Architectural League, reads. “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.”

The Huffington Post notes that there have also been petitions online to save the building. Architecture writer James S. Russell also penned an oped slamming the decision.

When the announcement was made earlier this month, MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry only told the Times, “It’s not a comment on the quality of the building or Tod and Billie’s architecture.”

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