The Museum of Modern Art has confirmed its plans to raze its next-door neighbor, the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects-designed former American Folk Art Museum, as part of an expansion designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R).
In April, MoMA announced its initial plans to demolish the building, which is well-regarded by the architecture community, to expand its footprint. After a public outcry, the museum hired DS+R to oversee the expansion and explore keeping the existing structure.
The firm conducted a thorough analysis of the folk art building—which opened in 2001 with praise for its distinctive handcrafted bronze façade and statement on 21st-century architecture—to explore the potential of adaptive reuse, but determined preservation was impossible without dismantling and rebuilding the structure.
Lobby concept courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro
“To save the building, we had to lose too much of the building,” DS+R principal Elizabeth Diller told the New York Times. “You pass a tipping point where there’s not enough of the original structure to actually maintain its identity.”
Sculpture garden concept courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The folk art museum's architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, expressed their disappointment with the decision in a statement: “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.” The firm was awarded a 2003 AIA National Honor Award for the design of the museum.
View from 53rd St. concept by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
DS+R’s new design, initial details of which were approved by MoMA’s board of trustees on January 8, calls for new gallery space on three floors within the planned 82-floor residential tower designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. A new building on the folk art site would house flexible space for exhibits and performances, while the current lobby and ground-floor areas will transform into an expansive public gathering space including a sculpture garden.
"The additional space will allow the Museum to show transformative acquisitions that have added new dimensions and voices to its holdings," MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry said in a statement.
Axonometric projection courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The MoMA expansion, which comes nine years after an $858 million overhaul by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, will add about 40,000 square feet. The folk art building could come down as early as June with project completion targeted for 2018 or 2019.