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Building saving

April 16, 2013


From Benjamin

Since the recent announcement of the Museum of Modern Art’s decision to demolish the gentle gem of the former American Folk Art Museum, designed by Williams and Tsien, there has been near universal, and well deserved condemnation.     “It’s not a comment on the quality of the building or Tod and Billie’s architecture,”  MoMA’s director Glenn D. Lowry, pretended to explain to the New York Times.  Hard to understand that.  But it surely is a comment on the lack of imagination, vision, and judgment of the museum. Again.

Before the steroidal inflation of the spaces designed in 1997; or the shopping-mall styled expansion of 1984, or the abrupt if constrained extension of 1964, the Modern’s role as trusted repository for the best of 20th century art was expressed not only in its contents but through the architecture of its building, and nowhere moreso than in its rear garden, first completed in 1958.  In John Cassavetes’ cinematic paean to the NYC of 1961, “Shadows”, MoMA’s garden is shown at its best. As an oasis at once austere and humanely scaled, sculptures are lent power by their careful disposition in neutral space, and yet kept accessible by the subtle proportions & rhythmic changes of level, from plinth to pool.  Enough to inspire wonder in the hooky-playing kids of 1960.

Surely if buildings by Philip Goodwin & Edward Durell Stone, [1939], Philip Johnson, [1953 & 64], Cesar Pelli [84] and Yoshio Taniguchi [97] can be found or forced to coexist, then room can be made for one more in 2013. And where better to put a light-reflecting bronze sculpture than the garden?

More beautiful clips from “Shadows” can be found here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2013 12:37 pm

    actually, apart from the museum tower, Cesar Pelli has been blessedly erased.

  2. April 17, 2013 9:16 pm

    Love Cassavetes…Shadows was beautiful…

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