An outcry of despair reverberated through the design world last night at the news that New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has decided to tear down the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects–designed former American Folk Art Museum building. For many, the New York Times article announcing the decision may as well have been an obituary: “For MoMA, Beloved Building Means an Obstacle.” A material maverick amid the glass-and-steel monotony of Midtown, and a paragon of craftsmanship, the former Folk Art Museum is lost all too soon. The building, 12, is survived by its two loving architects and a cadre of devoted supporters.
Many hope that MoMA may yet preserve the structure as a crown jewel in its permanent collection of architectural artifacts, but its future looks dim, with demolition slated to occur before the end of the year. It has been closed to the public since the eponymous institution sold the building to MoMA in 2011, but the immaculately detailed, pleated bronze-and-copper façade is well worth revisiting before it comes down. And for those who didn’t make it into the interior when it was open, the grand central staircase and galleries of the eight-story building will be preserved in these photos from Esto’s archive, which were captured by photographer Peter Mauss shortly after its 2001 opening.