Slated for demolition by the end of this year to make way for a planned expansion of the Museum of Modern Art, the former home of the American Folk Art Museum may have received a stay of execution.
Officials at MoMA may reconsider the decision to raze the Folk Art Museum following the selection of Diller Scofidio + Renfro to develop the MoMA West End expansion. The firm has asked MoMA for flexibility with regard to the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects–designed building, whose fate was sealed by MoMA officials last month.
"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," said the a statement from Diller Scofidio + Renfro. "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."
MoMA's decision to raze the museum—which was the first purpose-built museum building to open in New York in more than three decades when it was completed in 2001—sparked an immediate outcry across the design community. More than 30 of New York's most prestigious architects joined critics of the decision when the Architectural League of New York called on MoMA to stay its hand in late April.
A memo from MoMA director Glenn Lowry to museum trustees and staff obtained by ARCHITECT did not directly address the controversy, but confirmed the decision to put preservation back on the table. "We readily agreed to consider a range of options, and look forward to seeing their results," Lowry said.
Williams, FAIA, and Tsien, AIA, are traveling and could not be reached for immediate comment. The architects, who were honored with the the 2013 AIA Architecture Firm of the Year Award, posted a dissenting statement to the firm's website last month in response to MoMA's decision.
"We have known Liz Diller and Ricardo Scofidio as friends and colleagues for many years," said a statement passed along by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. "We have great respect for the work of their firm and have every expectation that they will address MoMA's expansion project in a thoughtful way. While we have no role in this, we are open to sharing our knowledge. We hope that MoMA's choice of Diller Scofidio + Renfro will open up the opportunity for a fresh look at the possibilities of the former American Folk Art Museum building as it relates to MoMA's campus."
Details regarding Diller Scofidio + Renfro's plans for MoMA are not yet available. "We're thrilled to take part in the next step of MoMA's evolution," said the Diller Scofidio + Renfro statement. "DS+R has exhibited within MoMA's walls since 1989 and now we've been invited to rethink the museum's walls."