MoMA - New York


Photography: Rory Gardiner

11 West 53rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan
Architect: Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone (original building)
Philip Johnson (1950s and 1960s expansions and sculpture garden)
Cesar Pelli & Associates now Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (1984 expansion including residential tower)
Yoshio Taniguchi (2004 expansion) Diller Scofidio + Renfro (ongoing expansion).

The Museum of Modern art was founded in 1929 and moved to its current location in Midtown Manhattan, a few blocks from Central Park, on its tenth anniversary. The building 'a white marble box with a glass-walled base, two levels of galleries with translucent glazing, and upper-level offices with horizontal strip windows´ was designed by Philip Goodwin a member of MoMA's board at the time and Edward Durell Stone. The building stood in stark contrast to the then neighboring townhouses. Since then the museum has steadily been eating its way through the block, expanding several time over the following eight decades.

The first major expansion was led by Philip Johnson. Johnson became the first director of MoMA's Department of Architecture in 1932, but he resigned from his position in 1934 to return to Ohio (where he was born) to work as a political activist for the fascists. Johnson who had traveled to Germany in 1930 to study modern architecture together with Henry-Russsell Hitchcock (with whom he coined the term "The International Style" for their exhibition Modern Architecture: International Exhibition at MoMA two years later) and came back with a fascination not only for the new style but also for Hitler. However Johnson returned to MoMA in 1946 and designed the Sculpture Garden and two  extensions (of which one was demolished for the later expansion of the West Wing)  during the 50s and 60s. 

In 1984 Cesar Pelli & Associates completed the construction of the new West Wing including a 56-​story residential tower on top of the museum while also restoring the original facade of the 1939, Philip Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone building, which had been altered during the many expansions and renovations of the museum.

During the 1990s MoMA continues to purchase adjacent buildings to prepare for further expansions and in 2001 construction starts of yet another expansion of the museum, the largest so far, creating almost 60,000 square meters of new and redesigned space. This time led by Yoshio Taniguchi. Most of the museum reopened in 2004 while parts of it opened in 2006.

Now 10 years later it's time for a new expansion and the architects in charge are Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Although MoMA has received criticism for demolishing the American Folk Art Museum, completed in 2001 and designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, it's going to be interesting to see what the future of MoMA will look like and how long they will be able to expand the way they have so far.

Elevation of the 1939 building by Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone to the left and Philip Johnson's 1964 addition to the right.

Elevation of Yoshio Taniguchi's addition from 2004.

Axonometric projection of complex © Yoshio Taniguchi

National Theatre - London


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