Friday, February 5, 2010


The Museum of Arts and Design in New York (former the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, later the American Craft Museum) moved to a new location (2 Columbus Circle) in 2008. The old building at 2 Columbus Circle was designed (in somewhat Art Deco style) by Edward Durell Stone in the 1960-s. Redesign was done by Brad Cloepfil and his Portland, Oregon-based firm Allied Works Architecture. From the beginning the project was surrounded by controversy. Supporters of preserving Stone's building included such names as d Tom Wolfe, Frank Stella, Robert Stern, Nicolai Ouroussoff, Witold Rybczynski and many others.

Brad Cloepfil was also unhappy, particularly with design changes forced on him by the museum director Holly Hotchner, who insisted on adding a horizontal band of windows (at a restaurant level) connecting two vertical windows and thus creating a letter "H". To some critics, this letter represented Holly Hotchner's egomaniacal ambitions. With a vertical window on the western facade, the building now seems to say "Hi".

When I visited the museum on January 31, 2010, before I learned about its history and the "H" controversy, I found Cloepfil's building quite interesting. Custom-designed ceramic tiles dramatically change colors depending on lighting and viewing angle. I was impressed by the staircase supported by steel cables. But the most interesting for me was the show "Slash: Paper Under The Knife" (will be opened till April 4).