A slew of high-profile architects and critics, including Annabelle Selldorf, Steven Holl, Wendy Evans Joseph, Thom Mayne, Richard Meier, Michael Sorkin, and Robert A.M. Stern, have joined the campaign to save the American Folk Art Museum building. They have each signed an open letter, written by New York’s Architectural League, calling on the MoMA to rethink its plans for demolition.
“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,” reads the letter, which was sent to the Museum of Modern Art on Monday. “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.”
Thousands of people have already signed two online petitions to save the building from demolition.
American Folk Art Museum
Photo © Michael Moran
Only 12 years after its completion, the New York building that Tod Williams Billie Tsien designed for the American Folk Art Museum is slated to be torn down, according to a story in the New York Times. In 2011, the institution sold the building to the neighboring Museum of Modern Art to abate life-threatening financial troubles, including $32 million in debt taken on to finance its construction. MoMA plans to demolish the building to make way for an expansion of its own facilities that includes an 82-story tower by Jean Nouvel.
“We feel really disappointed,” Tsien told the Times. “There are of course the personal feelings—your buildings are like your children, and this is a particular, for us, beloved small child. But there is also the feeling that it’s a kind of loss for architecture because it’s a special building, a kind of small building that’s crafted, that’s particular and thoughtful at a time when so many buildings are about bigness.”
The revelation comes shortly after Tod Williams Billie Tsien received the 2013 Firm of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects. Ironically, the eight-story Folk Art Museum building, with its distinctive metal facade, was crucial in establishing their reputation. The project won numerous awards and garnered international media coverage when it opened, raising the firm's profile considerably. Williams voiced his concern about the project’s fate in a 2011 Architectural Record story. At the time, MoMA claimed that it would incorporate the Folk Art Museum’s former home into its own expansion scheme rather than demolish it.
Read the full story from the New York Times here: 12-Year-Old Building at MoMA Is Doomed