Contract - May 2013 - (Page 22)

photo: Meg Walton editorial What Is Modern and Worth Saving, Celebrating, and Reissuing? Welcome to our annual May NeoCon® preview issue, with a focus on modern office design featuring six outstanding workplace interiors, ranging from the exuberant interiors of the BBC in England to the sublime Paul Hastings Atlanta office. We’ve been busy here at Contract, producing this fantastic issue, preparing for NeoCon®, and covering design news regularly on and in social media. With that in mind, I am going to connect our world of commercial interiors with one of the hot-button news items from the past month. At this year’s NeoCon®, a number of companies have exciting new products and materials, while some of what is new this season is actually old. Classics are reissued, such as Herman Miller’s archival reintroduction of the Charles and Ray Eames molded fiberglass chair. Originally designed in metal for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 1948 International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design, the chair was then produced in fiberglass beginning in 1950. More than 60 years later, the chair is a classic, and Herman Miller is celebrating it this spring. It’s not just a chair; it is a piece of design culture that will be admired and enjoyed by new generations. Seeing reissues such as the Eames chair begs a question: What is worth saving in terms of the culture of design and architecture? As many of you are now aware, MoMA announced in early April that it planned to tear down the 12-year-old former American Folk Art Museum building that it now owns. Immediately to the west of MoMA, the American Folk Art Museum building was designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, and opened in 2001. The folk art museum, deeply in debt, sold the building to MoMA in 2011 for $31.2 million, and its collection is now in a smaller location on West 66th Street. Hailed as the first important new building in New York City in the twenty-first century, the folk art museum opening was a highlight in an otherwise dark 2001. The crafted, modestly scaled building received rave reviews from the beginning and continues to be critically acclaimed and even studied in architecture schools. It is a subtle-yetpowerful, humane, idiosyncratic building that is a prime example for how a complex museum interior can fit within a 40-foot-wide urban site. The visually striking exterior clad in tombasil panels is thoroughly 22 modern, yet is in stark contrast to the bland, corporate-appearing, glass-and-steel exterior of the neighboring Yoshio Taniguchi-designed addition to MoMA, completed in 2006. MoMA had initially said its expansion plans for the block did not allow for the folk art building to remain. West of the folk art museum, a new Jean Nouvel-designed 82-story tower, with MoMA gallery space and condominiums, is to be built by 2018 by Hines in cooperation with MoMA. The folk art building was essentially in the way between the existing MoMA complex and the Nouvel tower. MoMA also claimed that the folk art museum galleries were too small for modern art, and that the two museums’ floor plates did not line up. Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, recipients of the 2013 AIA Architecture Firm Award, won a 2003 AIA National Honor Award for the folk art museum. Williams has said that at least one of the upper floors of the folk art museum could line up with a floor in MoMA. And, broadly, Williams and Tsien were disappointed by the potential destruction. In a statement in April, they said, “We believe that the greater issue is the loss that this decision represents to the City of New York, and to the broader cultural, architectural, and design worlds.” Architects and designers were extremely critical of MoMA’s demolition plans. How can MoMA, within which the first architecture and design curatorial department was established in 1932, initiate the destruction of a 12-year-old excellent example of modern architecture right next door? How can a museum that curates and exhibits great design—such as Eames chairs—and architectural drawings, not find a way to creatively make use of the Williams and Tsien building? Real estate was trumping the art of architecture for MoMA until it announced on May 9 that it hired Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design a new museum building and at least study the possibility of maintaining the folk art structure. That announcement was a positive step. See my continued commentary about the folk art museum on page 160. Sincerely, John Czarnecki, editor in Chief may 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - May 2013

Contract - May 2013
Industry News
Columnist: Attending NeoCon® to Enhance the Knowledge Base of You and Your Client
Exhibition: GlobalShop 2013
Exhibition: Coverings 2013
Exhibition: Salone Internazionale de Mobile
Product Focus: Midcentury Made Modern
Product Focus: Uninterrupted Workflow
NeoCon® preview
BBC North
Paul Hastings Atlanta
3M Headquarters
Federal Center South Building 1202
Atlassian II
An interview with Vijay Kumar, author of 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization
Designers Select: Office
Ad Index
Commentary: On MoMA’s Plans for its Modern Neighbor

Contract - May 2013