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MoMA Drama: My Participation on Archinect’s Panel Regarding the Expansion Controversy

Soon-to-be-dismantled façade of American Folk Art Museum's former building Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Soon-to-be-dismantled façade of American Folk Art Museum’s former building
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

On Jan. 31, I participated in an Archinect-organized panel discussion (via Skype) regarding the controversy over the Museum of Modern Art’s expansion plans in general and the knock-down of the American Folk Art Museum’s former building in particular.

Our freewheeling give-and-take, moderated by Archinect‘s editorial manager, Amelia Taylor-Hochberg, was pegged to the Architectural League’s Jan. 28 all-star discussion about the controversial project (video of that two-hour event is here) and also made reference to Robin Pogrebin‘s Jan. 18 front-page NY Times piece on the sundered friendship between two architect-couples—Liz Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, designers of MoMA’s planned expansion; Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, designers of the about-to-be-demolished AFAM building.

Our nearly three-month-old conversation’s belated posting on Archinect’s website is pegged to this week’s commencement of demolition work on the AFAM building, to make way for a portion of MoMA’s expansion.

You can hear Archinect’s 35-minute edited version of our slightly longer original discussion by clicking the arrow below. Or you can skip to our closing thoughts, which begin at 30:05 on the audio bar.

Here’s the order of panelists for the closing portion: architect Donna Sink, Lee Rosenbaum (aka CultureGrrl), designer Quilian Riano (co-founder of the #FolkMoMA activist organization) architect Ken Koense. If you listen to the whole thing, the initial speaking order is: Riano, Rosenbaum, Koense, Sink.

During our discussion, I revealed that MoMA’s press office (responding to my query) had informed me that Williams and Tsien were not consulted by MoMA about the demolition of their building. Further on, I stated that “the façade [of AFAM] is something I feel could be worth preserving” (an opinion I had expressed, much earlier, in a May 2013 CultureGrrl post). Less than two weeks after our panel was convened, we learned that the façade would, in fact, be preserved, although to what use (if any) it may eventually be put is still unknown.

I’ll have more to say (and show) on this topic soon. For now, here’s our Archinect panel’s confab:

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