Designers React to Folk Art Museum’s Imminent Demolition

Courtesy of FolkMOMA

UPDATE: Since we first reported on this story, the Architectural League of has written an open letter to the MoMA, calling for “a compelling justification for the cultural and environmental waste of destroying this much-admired, highly distinctive twelve-year-old building.” Signatories include Steven Holl, Thoma Mayne, Richard Meier, and Robert A. M. Stern. You can find the letter here.

As we reported yesterday, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has announced their plans to demolish the 12-year old American Folk Art Museum, designed by Tod Williams & Bille Tsien. The MoMA, which has planned a new expansion on either side of Williams & Tsien’s building, claims that the building will prevent the floors from lining up and thus must be demolished. Moreover, officials claim that the building’s opaque facade isn’t in keeping with the MOMA’s glass aesthetic.

Designers and architects, outraged by the MoMA’s decision to destroy such a young and architecturally important part of New York’s urban fabric, are now challenging the validity of the MoMA’s claim. Not only has a petition been started to prevent the demolition, but many are pleading with MoMa to consider how the Folk Art Museum could be integrated into the new expansion. In fact, a Tumblr – crowdsourcing ideas for potential re-designs - has even been set-up.

See more designers’ reactions & suggestions on how to save the , after the break…

Penn Station in 1911. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

As evidenced by the comments of our own ArchDaily readers, many architects are drawing a parallel between the decision to demolish the American Folk Art Museum with the misguided decision to demolish McKim, Mead, & White’s Beaux Arts Masterpiece at Penn Station in 1963. It was a decision, made in the interest of commercial gain, that continues to be regretted by New Yorkers today. As Michael Petrus, one of the petition signers elegantly put it:

“MOMA should at least allow a talented team of architects and engineers to examine this issue before rashly and tragically deciding to act in way that will surely place MOMA in the same league of developers that tore down Penn Station. Any design team worth its salt could easily incorporate Folk Art into a larger scheme by contrasting the floor (mis)alignment and opacity of the W+T building. MOMA, are you about beauty and art or convenience and capital? Please, give your design team the opportunity to integrate one of the best NYC buildings of the past 100 years a chance.”

This is exactly the idea behind #FolkMoMA, a tumblr that is crowdsourcing ideas in protest of MoMA’s decision. They hope that by gathering ideas and attention, MoMA will be forced to recognize other alternatives to demolition. To participate, just post your design idea to Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter (@FolkMoMA), Instagram, or Pinterest with the hashtag #FolkMoMa.

Courtesy of FolkMOMA

Sign the Petition

Check out the Tumblr

Cite: Quirk, Vanessa. "Designers React to Folk Art Museum’s Imminent Demolition" 23 Apr 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • BH

    While there is reason to protest the demolition of this museum building, let’s not be hyperbolic. This is not another Old Penn Station-level debacle! Anyone who compares the two is beyond disingenuous.

  • BKo

    It’s not really that great a building. As architects, I think that we should be a little more discriminating about what deserves iconic or historically significant status.

    • Challie

      First of all, that is YOUR opinion. Plenty of architects think it IS that great of a building (which is why so many people are protesting this). Second of all, why do you think architecture has to be discriminating? I want architecture for everyone.

      And third, and most importantly, building construction produces 40% of the world’s pollution. So regardless of whether you like it or not, a 12 year building life for ANY building, architecturally significant or not, is a serious problem. Architects are supposed to SOLVE problems.

  • PM

    You can’t compare the building to Penn Station as that was a vast public station this is a small hidden gem.

    Its an iconic building and you’d expect MOMA of all institutions to respect the originality of its design. Crazy

  • bz

    I’d love to get my hands on a few of those panels!

  • wk

    in what world does moma live in, that it has the gall to destroy a 12-year-old, beautiful, multi-gazillion dollar building, because the f___ing floor plates don’t line up ??? real architects solve these minor issues simply and gracefully.
    the true story is about hyper-inflated egos and unfettered wealth gone wild

  • Allan

    I find the facade horrifying but I’ve never been to NY.

  • Nikola

    All the photo-shops are about the facade. Why don’t MoMA keep the facade of the Folk art Museum and build the new building behind.

    No one tells about the inner space or function.
    All the architects care only about their facades.

    • jc

      ‘All the architects care only about their facades.’ Your comment incriminates you enough to not warrant any further rebuttal…