MoMA Unveils Redesign, Plans to Raze Folk Art Museum

Robin Pogrebin reports in the New York Times that the Museum of Modern Art in New York today unveiled new plans for its midtown Manhattan building created by architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. As part of the museum’s redesign, the architects plan to use the site currently occupied by the American Folk Art Museum to create a ground-floor exhibition and performance space they refer to as the Art Bay, which will have as its façade a retractable sheet of glass that’ll allow the museum to open into the street.

As might be expected, the museum’s decisions to redesign its building and to raze the next-door Folk Art Museum encroach on sensitive territory: As Elizabeth Diller, one of the architectural firm’s principals, noted, “It’s very hard to make peace with yourself, to advocate for taking down a building that’s only twelve years old.” MoMA’s director, Glenn Lowry, had notified Yoshio Taniguchi—architect of the museum’s last overhaul in 2004—about the planned changes. Meanwhile, the Folk Art Museum’s architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, registered their dissatisfaction with MoMA’s plan to raze their designs. “This action represents a missed opportunity to find new life and purpose for a building that is meaningful to so many,” the architects said. “The inability to experience the building firsthand and to appreciate its meaning from an historical perspective will be profoundly felt.”

MoMA plans to begin construction on its new building this summer, and aims to finish the project in 2018 or 2019. Renderings of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s redesign can be found here.