Museum of Arts & Design is, by almost all accounts, an improvement over the former Gallery of Modern Art – on the inside. But the exterior changes brought forth a firestorm of criticism and even charges that the museum tried to subvert the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Preservationists wanted to keep the Edward Stone-designed facade intact; the museum envisioned radical changes.
The issue was never formally considered by the Commission – no public hearings were ever held. The Department of Buildings issued the necessary permits, and reconstruction proceeded according to Allied Works/Brad Cloepfil plans.
One might consider the glass-slashed design bizarre – but there were also many who felt pretty strongly that the old design was also bizarre.
Personally, I was not a fan of the old design. Eight windowless floors of marble was too cold – like a tombstone or a Verizon switching center. I’m not too fond of the new design, either, but it strikes me as at least more dynamic and in keeping with the swirling traffic of Columbus Circle.
Meanwhile, back on the inside… Those slashes in the facade bring natural light into the galleries where before there was none. And the stairs were redone so they’re usable, not just emergency exits; it’s easier to get up, down and around the building. Those improvements appear to have been made without sacrificing wall or gallery space, so I’d count that as a net gain.
The “Recommended Reading” links explore the history and controversy in depth; the Steel Institute and Allied Works links reveal under-the-skin construction details. Enjoy!
Museum of Arts & Design Vital Statistics
- Location: 2 Columbus Circle
- Year completed: 1964; reconstruction: 2008
- Architect: Edward Durell Stone; redesign: Brad Cloepfil
- Floors: 11
- Style: Postmodern
Museum of Arts & Design Recommended Reading
- Wikipedia entry (Museum of Arts & Design)
- Wikipedia entry (2 Columbus Circle)
- The New York Times The Secret History of 2 Columbus Circle (January 8, 2006)
- The New York Times New Face, Renewed Mission (September 25, 2008)
- New York Magazine Museum Date: A pair of critics size up the new Museum of Arts and Design (September 7, 2008)
- Steel Institute of New York / Metals in Construction: Museum of Arts & Design – Mad World (Spring 2009)
- Allied Works project portfolio (redesign architect)
- Museum of Arts & Design website