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Don’t Mess With the Architects: Annabelle Selldorf Rallies Richard Meier, Steven Holl and More to Save Tod Williams Billie Tsien’s American Folk Art Museum

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For the vast majority of the architectural community, the Museum of Modern Art’s recent decision to raze the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects-designed American Folk Art Museum is nothing short of an outrage. “It’s a form of betrayal,” wrote New York magazine’s Justin Davidson, who was quick to point out MoMA architecture curator Barry Bergdoll’s silence on the matter (although he ultimately explained to the Architect’s Newspaper how retaining the building but rearranging its interior to suit MoMA’s exhibition purposes “denature its total design aesthetic”). In Vanity Fair, Paul Goldberger called it a “hideous act of architecture-cide.” In Architect Magazine, Ned Cramer quipped, “It’s as though the board voted to incinerate a Gerhard Richter painting because it didn’t match the floor tile or fit through the doorway.”

Adding to the chorus of dissent is Annabelle Selldorf, who, as president of the Architectural League, corralled 34 more voices of opposition under an open letter to MoMA yesterday. She demanded that the institution “provide more information about why it considers it necessary to tear down this significant work of contemporary architecture,” as it hasn’t yet “offered a compelling justification for the cultural and environmental waste of destroying this much-admired, highly distinctive twelve-year-old building.” More than 30 fellow architects, including Robert A.M. Stern, Massimo Vignelli, and Thom Mayne, put their names down in support, a gesture of solidarity we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. Following the massive starchitect-signed petitions in support of Stefano Boeri after his dismissal from Milan’s cultural council and Denise Scott Brown’s request for a Pritzker inclusion ceremony, the architecture community has made one thing abundantly clear: they take care of their own and are quick to denounce anyone who crosses them.

— Janelle Zara

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