Monday, October 24, 2016

A Notable New York Building Reviewed for Archtober

To celebrate @Archtober - an architecture festival just winding down in New York - I wanted to highlight a New York project of supreme architectural merit. Sadly the building in question was demolished in 2014 after only 12 years of use: I am of course talking about the celebrated American Folk Art Museum designed by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien completed in 2001. There’s no point in re-litigating the causes of its demise, rather I will use this time remembering a New York architectural jewel. Though the facade of the building was excellent on its own merits – it’s rare bronze alloy panels making a significant visual impact on the street ­­– it was the material selection and careful design that brought the building to my attention. The floorplan, with its many nooks and crannies, reminds many visitors of a domestic interior which is well-intended since the details are craftsmen-like as well, all reflecting the museum’s folk art roots. The budget for this building must have been astronomical to be able to source such fine materials like Douglas Fir and Cherry woods in large amounts and Pietra Piesentina, a hard stone from north Italy, to say nothing of the specialization it took to create the façade. What a dream to be able to design with such materials. And then to be able to specify such fine tolerances and highly customized building details - a feature contractors hate but which good design demands - is what raises the building to a fine example of post-modern architecture. The arcspace blog has pictures and a rundown of some of this great building’s notable details. For those interested in what architects replaced the Folk Art Museum: Diller Scofidio + Renfro of New York were awarded the expansion of the Modern Museum of Art which brought down the building in question but supposedly the American Folk Art Museum’s façade was saved.

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