DS+R to the Rescue? MoMA Considers Granting the American Folk Art Museum Reprieve if Architects Find Alternative to Demolition

MoMA‘s planned demolition of the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects-designed American Folk Art Museum has been a veritable clash of the Titans (big art vs. big architecture) since its announcement, but it’s possible that architecture might emerge victorious. Following the fervent outcry of the architecture community (likely the only project you’ll see where Thom Mayne, Robert A.M. Stern, and Annabelle Selldorf are on the same team), MoMA has announced the possibility of rescinding its decision.

Courtesy of Dan Nguyen @ New York City via Flickr

With Diller, Scofidio + Renfro at the helm of the museum’s forthcoming expansion, MoMA has opened itself to options outside of demolishing the building next door, according to the New York Times. The DS+R has reportedly “asked that they be given 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,” MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry wrote in a memo to trustees and staff.

The architecture firm asked, and they have received, which means they’re now charged with solving MoMA’s main problem with the American Folk Art Museum: the misalignment of two buildings, both literal and figurative. (Not only do their adjacent floors not line up, they come from entirely separate aesthetics.)

While there’s no guarantee of retaining the much-loved TWBT creation, DS+R would be the firm capable of finding a solution. Not only have they established a reputation of ingenuity as radical thinkers (see the Slow House or High Line as examples), they’re devoted members of the architectural community, which reaffirms its loyalty every time one of its ilk gets in trouble. In a statement, they describe Williams and Tsien as “friends and admired colleagues.” This one’s personal.

— Janelle Zara