Does the building find a broad constituency? The Sydney Opera House thrives as a globally beloved icon even though its symphony hall and opera house have always been acoustically challenged and technically inadequate. The Folk Art Museum building, which closed in 2011, failed to find that broad constituency. Architects rallied to save it, but many in the art community thought its idiosyncratic display areas (in stairway niches, for example) did the artifacts no favors.
Can the building be adapted? Advocates could not get Edward Durell Stone's crumbling Huntington Hartford Gallery of Modern Art in New York restored, a 1964 building that had been closed for years because its tiny split-level galleries weren't thought usable—an argument rejoined in the Folk Art Museum controversy. Preservationists prefer to focus the argument on aesthetic and cultural significance rather than on functionality, since what feels useless to one generation (SoHo lofts in the 1960s) can become extraordinarily valuable to future ones. Yet the public gets impatient with buildings boarded up as they await a savior.