MoMA Selects Diller Scofidio + Renfro as Architect of the Folk Art Museum

The Museum of Modern Art has commissioned Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) to design its controversial expansion that will overtake the former American Folk Art Museum in New York. This news comes after an intense backlash from prominent architects, preservationists and critics worldwide pressured MoMA to reconsider its decision to raze the iconic, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien-design museum in order to make way for its new expansion.

In response, DS+R has requested that MoMA gives them the “time and latitude to carefully consider the entirety of the site, including the former American Folk Art Museum building, in devising an architectural solution to the inherent challenges of the project,” as stated by Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA’s director, in a memo sent on Thursday to his trustees and staff. He added, “We readily agreed to consider a range of options, and look forward to seeing their results.”

More on the DS+R’s commission and the fate of the Folk Museum after the break...

In a statement, DS+R commented: “We're thrilled to take part in the next step of MoMA's evolution. DS+R has exhibited within MoMA's walls since 1989 and now we've been invited to rethink the museum's walls. This is a complex project that also involves issues of urban interface, concerns that are central to our studio. We have asked MoMA, and they have agreed, to allow us the time and flexibility to explore a full range of programmatic, spatial, and urban options. These possibilities include, but are not limited to, integrating the former American Folk Art Museum building, designed by our friends and admired colleagues, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.”

Despite this, it is apparent that DS+R and MoMA are not committed to preserving all or part of the Folk Art Museum's structure. As early reports suggest, not only does the former museum's bronze facade clash with MoMA’s glazed exterior, but the misaligned floor plates will make for a challenging and pricy solution. Schematic proposals are expected to be released by the end of the year.

“We’re going to try to create the best building we can create,” Jerry I. Speyer, the real estate developer and MoMA chairman, as reported by the New York Times. “Whether we include Folk Art or not, as is, is an open question.”

The MoMA expansion is expected to add 10,000 square feet of additional gallery space at the former Folk Art site and an additional 40,000 square feet of space in a new, 82-story residential tower designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.

DS+R is currently helping the City realize its vision for Manhattan’s far West Side -including the final phase of the High Line park and the proposed Culture Shed, an innovative and accessible future home for the creative industries in the Hudson Yards district—and is working with other museums in the U.S. and around the world.

References: MoMA, DS+R, The New York Times

About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "MoMA Selects Diller Scofidio + Renfro as Architect of the Folk Art Museum " 09 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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