A couple of hours after my previous post, MoMA announced that it had hired Diller Scofidio & Renfro to design its planned addition to the museum. The museum accepted DS&R’s request to “carefully consider the entirety of the site, including the former American Folk Art Museum building.” DS&R have inoculated director Glen Lowry from continued vituperation and possibly loss of financial support for his ill-advised plan to replace the Folk Art Museum with more large, white-box galleries. In specifically accepting DS&R’s condition, Lowry gracefully caved on the key point while implying that DS&R will not find a way to save this important work by “our friends and admired colleagues, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.” (That’s from the architect’s statement.)
This is the kind of high-wire diplomacy that got Lincoln Center’s fractious resident arts group to unite around the firm’s plan, and applaud the result. No one should assume, however, that the Folk Art Museum will be incorporated in its current form in the plan DS&R come up with — or that it will be included at all. The whole project is in many ways intricately thankless: wedging 40,000 square feet of large new galleries around the impediments of Jean Nouvel’s so-called tower of glass while gracefully including the intimate, idiosyncratic Folk Art design. Diller Scofidio & Renfro is the right firm to pull off this hat trick.