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American Folk Art Museum architects ‘devastated’ by demolition

Demolition has begun on the building which once housed New York’s American Folk Art Museum despite protests from architects, critics and a petition which had amassed more than 6,800 signatures

The American Folk Art Museum’s architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have spoken out about their disappointment over the decision to go-ahead and raze the building to the ground.  

In a statement the pair said: ‘Scaffolding has been erected in front of the former American Folk Art Museum building. We feel devastated.

‘This is a unique structure thoughtfully designed as a house for art. A building admired, visited, and studied by so many, will now be reduced to memory. We understand the façade [which is made up of bronze panels] will be put in storage but we worry it will never be seen again.

‘While the demolition is deeply painful to all of us who helped create it, or distress is of secondary importance to the civic, cultural, and sustainable issues the debate surrounding the building has raised. We remain deeply grateful to all who have protested this senseless and unnecessary act of destruction.’

The building which is just 12 years old is being demolished to make way for a new extension to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

The uproar against the plans forced MOMA’s architects Diller Scofido + Renfro to reconsider its proposals, but the demolition was deemed unavoidable.

MoMA bought the building in 2012, as part of future plans for their expansion, which include a tower designed by Jean Nouvel.

Once redeveloped the American Folk Art Museum site will provide the museum with an additional 3,000m² of exhibition space. Glenn Lowry, MoMA’s director told the New York Times: ‘The expansion will complete the MoMA campus’.

Demolition is expected to be complete by the summer.

Previous story (AJ 15.04.13)

MoMA to demolish American Folk Art Museum

Just 12 years after it opened, the American Folk Art Museum looks set for demolition as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) redevelopment plans

Designed by Todd Williams and Billie Tsien, the American Folk Art Museum sits next to MoMA in New York. Completed in 2001, it was the first new museum to be built in New York for more than 30 years.

MoMA bought the building in 2012, as part of future plans for their expansion, which include a tower designed by Jean Nouvel.

Once redeveloped the American Folk Art Museum site will provide the museum with an additional 3,000m² of exhibition space. Glenn Lowry, MoMA’s director told the New York Times: ‘The expansion will complete the MoMA campus’.

Speaking to the New York Times, MoMA officials said the building’s design did not fit their plans because the opaque facade is not in keeping with the glass aesthetic of the rest of the museum. The former folk museum is also set back farther than MoMA’s other properties, and the floors would not line up.

We are deeply saddened that this significant building will now be lost forever

A statement from Todd Williams and Billie Tsien, said: ‘The Folk Art Building stands as an example of a modest and purposefully conceived and crafted space for art and the public; a building type that is all too rare in a city that is often defined by bigness and impersonality. We remain enormously proud of it, and are deeply saddened that a significant building that was a source of enjoyment and inspiration for so many will now be lost forever.’

The American Folk Art Museum relocated to a smaller building nearby, after it was forced to sell the museum due to running into financial difficulties.

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