Making Way for The Modern

Making Way for The Modern

Concept sketch for MoMA’s Sculpture Garden entrance on 54th Street.
Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The American Folk Art Museum building on West 53rd Street will fall. As part of a

Concept sketch of The Museum of Modern Art, View from 53rd Street.

Diller acknowledged the potential for

Concept sketch of the lobby, looking west.

DS+R is also planning to open up the lobby from 53rd to 54th streets from a single height to a double height on the 53rd Street side, including a peekaboo view into the massive Taniguchi atrium above. The firm is also creating a new east/west corridor perpendicular to the Taniguchi lobby, connecting all the buildings on the MoMA “campus” on 53rd Street.

DS+R’s plan addresses many of the criticisms visitors have made about the Taniguchi building: poor and disorienting circulation, bottlenecks, and a somewhat forbidding street presence. DS+R also plans to alter the main 53rd street entrance, creating a new canopy and adding transparent glass above to allow views out to the street and glimpses of activities within the museum.

Axonometric plan.

DS+R plans to distribute ticketing into as many as four locations, diminishing bottlenecks and lines, and allowing greater access to the public. The book store, Art Bay, sculpture gallery, sculpture garden, and other loosely programmed lobby spaces will all be free to the public. They also plan to create a new entrance to the sculpture garden on 54th Street making it accessible without entering the museum.

With the support of the board secured, the Modern will move swiftly to demolish the folk art museum to advance construction on the Nouvel tower. Hines expects to break ground on the new Tower in June. DS+R’s project is scheduled to begin following completion of the Hines Tower, expected in 2018, with a likely completion in 2020.

Glenn Lowry, MoMA’s director, said he was somewhat surprised to be undertaking another major expansion less than a decade after Taniguchi’s project opened, but said it was in keeping with the museum’s identity. “Taniguchi created a wonderful platform—a building many people want to be in,” he said, citing annual attendance figures at 3 million. “But it opened up a series of new questions.” DS+R’s focus on multidisciplinary interaction and public engagement is in step with the direction of the museum. “One of the things that has always excited me about MoMA is that it’s always a work in progress,” he said. “We asked them to take us out of our comfort zone.”