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May 15th, 2003, 09:21 AM
May 15, 2003

'Under the Radar' Museum Plans New Home on the Bowery


As the proposed grand architectural projects of the 1990's fade from the horizon — the Whitney, the Guggenheim and Lincoln Center have all backed off ambitious plans by world-famous architects over the past few months — one modest museum is trying not to appear smug as it chugs determinedly forward.

The trustees of the New Museum of Contemporary Art announced yesterday that they had chosen an architect to build a new home on the Bowery that they hope will eventually stand for the next big thing. "We resisted the temptation to go with a big name right now," said Lisa Phillips, the director of the museum. "It's not what we're about. We're an under-the-radar institution committed to discovery and risk taking."

The architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA in Tokyo were selected in a limited competition that involved five firms deemed by insiders to be among the most promising younger talent at work in Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Britain and the United States. The others considered were Reiser & Umemoto RUR Architecture of Manhattan, Adjaye Associates of London, Abalos & Herreros of Madrid and Gigon & Guyer of Zurich.

Anthony Vidler, dean of the Cooper Union School of Architecture, said in an e-mail message that the New Museum had made "a magnificent choice." He said that Ms. Sejima, the principal architect, "has taken the tradition of modernist minimalism and typical plans, as developed by someone like Mies van der Rohe, and joined it to the tradition of the precise and elegant use of materials, to continue the tradition of `transparency' in an entirely new form."

The $35 million museum is to be built at a site that is now a parking lot between Stanton and Rivington streets. With 60,000 square feet, it will double the size of the present museum, now housed in a patchwork of condominiums on Broadway near Prince Street. Financing is to come from a capital campaign and from the sale of those condominiums.

Ms. Phillips said that a Chelsea site was briefly contemplated but dismissed because access to public transportation was too distant, and because Chelsea had "already exceeded critical mass." What's more, she said, after the Sept. 11 attacks the museum decided it was important to remain in Lower Manhattan.

Ms. Sejima and Mr. Nishizawa are better known in Europe and Asia than in the United States, where their first commission, an addition for the famed glass collection of the Toledo Art Museum in Ohio, is under construction. Known for instilling a minimalist aesthetic with an inner glow, they have also developed the prototype for the Prada cosmetic stores. The Contemporary Art Museum in Kanazawa, Japan, and a shop for Chrisian Dior in Tokyo are being built. In addition to several museums, homes and two pachinko parlors in Japan, they are now completing the design for an extension to the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia, Spain.

James Polshek, the Manhattan architect of the Rose Center for Earth and Space and an adviser to the New Museum selection committee, said Ms. Sejima's work was "surgically precise but poetic."

But the winning design for the new museum will not be shown until it has been completed next fall. In an interview last week Ms. Phillips spoke about not wanting to court the kind of disappointment that inevitably results when fancy models decked out in the highest hopes are announced to great trumpeting, only to be shelved or altered beyond recognition afterward.

The shouts that went up in the press about Daniel Libeskind's adjusting details for his designs at the World Trade Center site are only the most recent instance of the phenomenon. "I just didn't want to go there," Ms. Phillips said.

She did say that the architects were asked to be creative in the use of recycled materials as well as to provide high column-free spaces and plenty of natural light.

Others on the selection committee provided a few more salient details of the winning design. Mr. Polshek described a composition of stacked boxes reminding him of the gritty shipping containers along the New Jersey Turnpike, only here rendered into something beautiful.

Richard Gluckman, the architect of the Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea and also an architectural adviser to the New Museum, said he had been impressed by how the boxes were staggered in such a way as to make the building appear "to obliterate" the zoning requirements for setbacks while actually staying within the code. The unusual composition, he said, also allowed for natural light to pour in without having to resort to transparent walls. And that could be a benefit on the famously down-at-heel Bowery.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

May 15th, 2003, 09:53 AM
Well thats good news. *At least projects involving the arts are still going to happen. *The news with the City's Museums have been quite dim in the past few months with all the museums cancelling plans for additions and/or renovations etc....

May 15th, 2003, 10:39 PM
For Immediate Release


Acclaimed Designers Will Create First Major Art Museum Building in Downtown Manhattan

New York, NY (May 15, 2003)-The Board of Trustees of the New Museum of Contemporary Art announced today that noted avant-garde architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Tokyo-based partnership SANAA Ltd., have been chosen to design the institution's new building on the Bowery. The commission, which marks the culmination of a two-and-a-half year international search process, will result in the first major art museum constructed in downtown Manhattan in the city's modern history.

Sejima and Nishizawa, widely considered the most original and influential of a new generation of Japanese practitioners, will create a state-of-the-art, multiple-use $35 million facility for the New Museum on the site of what is now an 8,000 square foot parking lot at 235 Bowery, between Stanton and Rivington Streets at the beginning of Prince Street. Plans call for a 60,000 square-foot facility that will double the size of the New Museum's current quarters at 583 Broadway in Soho. In addition to dramatically increased, flexible exhibition space, the Bowery facility will offer an innovative new media center, a black box theater, bookstore, expanded classrooms, study center, and a café.

The SANAA Ltd. design for the New Museum will be unveiled in Fall 2003. Construction is expected to begin in Summer 2004, with an early 2006 building opening projected.

Saul Dennison, President of the Board of Trustees of the New Museum, said, "Downtown Manhattan has been home to generations of artists from around the world. With SANAA Ltd., we intend to take a leadership role in the revitalization of this great and storied district, and affirm New York's enduring role as the world's most international, dynamic and accessible cultural capital. Our building on the Bowery will firmly establish the New Museum as the premier contemporary arts destination in the City. With it, the Museum will provide a singular gathering place for the public and continue to be a resource for the City's creative and intellectual community."

"It is particularly exciting that after more than 25 years of presenting the best of contemporary art and engaging the community of artists internationally, we will create a building that is both a superb facility for programs and a significant work of contemporary art in itself," said Lisa Philips, Henry Luce III Director of the New Museum. "In keeping with the New Museum's mission and spirit, we have chosen a younger firm that, while not yet well known in the United States, is quite established in the design and construction of outstanding public facilities and experienced in addressing urban settings. Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are at the forefront of their generation, concerned with the same issues that pre-occupy artists working today, and deeply engaged in the priorities that will shape architecture and cities for many years to come. We are delighted and honored that they will design a new building for the New Museum, for artists, and for the public."

The Architects
Kazuyo Sejima, 47, and Ryue Nishizawa, 37, have received accolades internationally for work that is luminous and minimal in its aesthetics; sophisticated in its treatment of complex building detail and fluid, non-hierarchical space; and highly original in its use of exterior facades as permeable membranes that establish subtle but provocative relationships between interior and exterior, individual and community, and the realms of public and private experience. In Japan, the firm has completed numerous critically acclaimed commercial and institutional buildings, community centers, homes and museums. Among these are two jewel-like private museum buildings -- the O Museum in Nagano (1999) and the N Museum in Wakayama (1997), and the Day-Care Center in Yokohama (2000). Sejima also designed the celebrated Small House in Tokyo (2000). SANAA Ltd. is currently building the Contemporary Art Museum in Kanazawa, Japan, and an addition to the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) in Spain.

The architects have worked collaboratively in the partnership of SANAA Ltd. since 1995. Sejima studied architecture at the Japan Women's University before going to work for the celebrated architect Toyo Ito. She launched her own practice in 1987 and was named Young Architect of the Year in Japan in 1992. Nishizawa studied architecture at Yokohama National University and, in addition to his work with Sejima, has maintained an independent practice since 1997.

Commenting upon the New Museum commission, SANAA Ltd. stated, "We are pleased to be selected as the designers for such a unique project in New York City. It is most stimulating to conceive of a building for the art of our time, particularly at a moment when looking to the future seems a priority. The New Museum is a daring institution whose convictions relate very closely to our own, and we expect this project to be fascinating and satisfying. We hope the process will lead to a highly integrated public building that will in turn inspire further innovative thinking in design and art."

Announcement of the New Museum's selection of SANAA Ltd. as architects for its new building marks the culmination of a two-and-a-half year international search process. During the summer of 2001, a Request for Qualifications was sent to over thirty firms worldwide. Over the past year, the New Museum organized a series of roundtable discussions on the subject of "Museums for the 21st Century," funded by the Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation. Architects, professionals in the field, members of the Board of Trustees, and staff were invited to explore a wide range of issues related to contemporary museum architecture.

Following these roundtables and visits to several architectural firms, the Board Facility Planning Committee selected five international firms to submit preliminary design directions for the new New Museum: Abalos & Herreros of Madrid, Adjaye Associates of London, Gigon/Guyer of Zurich, Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA Ltd. of Tokyo, and Reiser + Umemoto RUR Architecture P.C. of New York City. With the support of architects Richard Gluckman and James Stewart Polshek, Design Consultants to the Selection Committee, the Committee conducted in-depth interviews with the candidates, and viewed completed buildings and other projects in order to arrive at their decision in late April 2003.

About the New Museum of Contemporary Art
Founded in 1977, the New Museum is the leading contemporary art museum in New York City and among the most respected internationally, with a curatorial program unrivaled in the United States in its global scope and adventurousness.

Over the last five years, the Museum has organized exhibitions of emerging and established artists from Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, China, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, England, Germany, Poland, Spain, South Africa, and Turkey. These are combined with ambitious surveys of important but under-recognized American artists such as Faith Ringgold, Carolee Schneeman, David Wojnorowicz and Paul McCarthy. The Museum's Media Lounge, launched in November 2000, is the only museum space in New York City devoted to presenting digital art and experimental video from around the world.

Iida, Nagano Prefecture, Japan 1995/1999
photo: Hisao Suzuki

Small House
Tokyo, Japan 1999-2000
photo: Hisao Suzuki

Nakahechi, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan 1995/1997
photo: Hisao Suzuki


September 30th, 2003, 12:39 PM
September 30, 2003

New Museum Joins Forces With Artists' Web Site


In an unusual instance of an established cultural organization taking an upstart arts group under its wing, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in SoHo is forging a partnership with Rhizome.org, an Internet site where digital artists can exhibit their online projects and crow about their status as art-world outsiders.

In an arrangement announced last week, Rhizome will become officially affiliated with the New Museum. Rhizome's staff has already moved into the New Museum's offices at 583 Broadway, between Houston and Prince Streets, and the museum will provide Rhizome with accounting, clerical and other administrative services. The partnership will allow Rhizome to expand its activities and audience while giving the New Museum's curators access to a fresh crop of emerging artists.

Lisa Phillips, the New Museum's director, said, "Our audience and Rhizome's audience will have the potential to cross over and know more about each other."

In its last fiscal year Rhizome spent about $323,000. Ms. Phillips said the affiliation would reduce Rhizome's expenses in the current year by more than $100,000.

But a digital-arts group and a museum, no matter how progressively minded, can make strange bedfellows. When digital artists began to create online artworks in the mid-1990's, much of the art form's energy was derived from the notion that the works did not need museums or galleries to reach an audience. Spawned by that sensibility in 1996, Rhizome quickly became one of the most popular Internet sites devoted to the digital arts. It is an online-only meeting place where members can announce new artworks, request technical assistance or argue over obscure aesthetic issues.

As excitement about digital art spread, museums began to commission online artworks. After the dot-com boom went bust, though, museum interest cooled along with the economy. The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, for instance, dismissed its new-media curator earlier this year.

As a result it is not clear whether the New Museum-Rhizome partnership can be viewed as a step in extracting Internet art from its tiny niche or as a life preserver for a floundering art form. Tim Whidden, a digital artist in Brooklyn and a longtime Rhizome contributor, said, "I'm wondering if it means a strengthening of new media, that is, it's being taken out of its ghetto and put into a larger art-world context, or a weakening, that is, it can't stand on its own legs."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company


November 13th, 2003, 10:43 PM
November 14, 2003


Lunchbox for Art: A New Museum


A digital rendering of the New Museum's Bowery building, designed by the Tokyo firm Saana.

The New Museum of Contemporary Art wants to build a seven-story bento box for art on the Bowery. Plans and models for this deftly composed lunch break of a building are now on view in the museum's mezzanine gallery, at 583 Broadway, between Houston and Prince Streets in SoHo. Produced by Saana, a Tokyo firm, the design should please those who believe that art museums should be neutral containers. If executed with proper attention to detail, the building will also delight the Victorians among us who incline toward tender passion.

It may seem odd to describe so minimalist a design as Victorian. It may be doubly odd to portray as tender a building that will be encased within tough galvanized zinc. Yet it was the Victorians who recognized the eloquence of the Crystal Palace, one of Minimalism's primary sources. And Minimalism's master, Mies van der Rohe, showed the world that industrial materials can be sweet.

This legacy should be kept in mind when the issue of context comes up. Like every substantial building that has gone up in Manhattan in the past decade, Saana's design demonstrates the fecundity that occurs when the idea of context is distinguished from mere adjacency. Add to, rather than fit in with: this is the crux of the distinction. When a building is dedicated to contemporaneity, as the New Museum will be, the design should add to the present.

Saana was chosen in April from a short list of younger, relatively unsung firms. These global talent hunts have become artworks in themselves, a genre of Arte Povera, perhaps, in which small struggling offices perform the function once played by hemp, rocks and other humble materials. "Feed me! Feed me!" The spectacle can be as heartbreaking as the death of Little Nell.

Kazuyo Sejima, one of Saana's two principal partners, is not an unknown. A former associate of Toyo Ito and a protégé of Arata Isozaki, she has been much talked about on the international circuit in recent years. Mr. Isozaki launched her on the global stage in 2000, when he commissioned her to design an installation at the Japanese Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Entitled "City of Girls," the project featured rows of plastic daisies planted in beds of white gravel and was intended to capture the flair of the Japanese techno-virgins who made the world safe for shopping magazines like Lucky. Knowingly or not, Ms. Sejima stepped into one of the privileged roles in architecture today: the foreigner who simultaneously affirms and deflates local notions of difference.

The project's title and location invited visitors to project images of the feminine and the Asian onto its pure white surfaces. The plastic flowers allowed us to detect the universal in our omnipotent modernity and its discontents.

In parts of Asia, it is said, the desirable is modern, the undesirable is Western. We in the West have often found our own modernity to be highly undesirable, however, and Saana's design can be seen as an expression of a continuing project to transform the aggressive energies of modern life into states of desire. Whatever Eastern qualities Saana has brought to the design, it is strongly rooted in the broad historical mainstream of contemporary New York.

Designed by Ms. Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, the firm's other principal partner, the new New Museum will be on the Bowery, just opposite the intersection with Prince Street, which terminates there. This site will give the museum visual access to and from deepest SoHo, where the museum's cultural roots are planted. Though first situated on the Greenwich Village campus of the New School, which gave the institution its name, the New Museum has been integral to the transformation of the old industrial city into the culture factory that it is today.

Saana's design encodes that history in urban space. Little lofts. Little SoHo lofts that died and went to heaven. That is one entrancing image that the museum's exterior brings to mind. The contemporary city is a search for the philosopher's stone capable of transforming rust into the life of the mind.

Frankly, I was expecting the firm to produce a more transparent building envelope. Saana is noted for delicate, veil-like facades, and the museum has spoken of its desire to appear open to the neighboring community. So it is surprising to see that the museum's elevations use less glass than those of the Whitney. The opaque zinc-finished steel may take some getting used to.

I'm prepared to like it immediately, however. There is more than one way to be open. We don't often see metal used as a light, reflective skin. With the moiré patterns that will glimmer across its galvanized surface, I expect that the skin will be nearly as veil-like as glass. This zinc plating really is that familiar, cheap silvery gray stuff air ducts are made of, a reminder that modern architecture is a form of industrial alchemy.

The idea of openness is conveyed more emphatically by the shape of the building envelope, perhaps, than by its materials. Each of the building's seven floors is represented as a distinct rectangular box. These are stacked atop one another, in an off-axis composition, like a chest of partly open drawers. This arrangement allows variety in the size and proportions of each floor. It also creates setbacks that are used for open-air terraces and for skylights to naturally illuminate the galleries below. At night, the building's metallic exterior will be washed with artificial lighting from within.

There are three main gallery floors, on the third, fourth and fifth levels. At least two of these will be connected by internal stairs. A vertical circulation core, of elevators and fire stairs, provides access throughout the building. The galleries are simple enclosures of space, treated as the luxury object that we in New York know space to be.

As they do in Japan, only more so. This is perhaps where the Eastern quality of the design can be sensed. In Japan the cost of a building is only a fraction of that of the space on which it stands. Remember how, in SoHo, lofts used to be described as raw space? At the New Museum, the loftlike galleries are cool, fresh, immaculately sliced sashimi.

One floor of offices, on the second level. A ground-floor cafe and bookshop. In the basement, a 200-seat auditorium and a media lounge. In the penthouse, party time! A square box of a space, including something called the Empire Bar, with wraparound terraces and views in all directions. Smaller galleries are tucked away throughout the museum. Happenstance encouraged.

More than half the funds have been raised for a $35 million capital project that includes the cost of building the 60,000-square-foot structure. The museum hopes to begin construction next October, with an opening projected for the spring of 2006. Guggenheimer Architects of New York is Saana's associated local architect. The project architect is Florian Idenburg. Structural engineering is by the dashing and talented Guy Nordenson, without whose services few contemporary buildings would dare to rise.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

November 14th, 2003, 12:08 AM
View onto building from the northwest side of Bowery between Houston and Prince Street.

View looking east from Prince Street between Elizabeth Street and Bowery.

In May 2003, the Board of Trustees of the New Museum of Contemporary Art announced the selection of the Tokyo-based firm Sejima + Nishizawa/SANAA to design the Museum's future home on the Bowery. The new location is very close to our current location on Broadway, and at the nexus of the dynamic neighborhood of Chinatown, Little Italy, Nolita, the East Village, and the Lower East Side. This architectural commission, which marks the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year international search and competition, will contribute significantly to the revitalization of downtown Manhattan and will result in the first art museum to be constructed downtown in over a century.

Sejima and Nishizawa, the partners of SANAA, widely considered the most original and influential among a new generation of Japanese practitioners, will create a state-of-the-art, 60,000-square-foot facility for the Museum on the site of what is presently an 8,000-square-foot parking lot at 235 Bowery, at Prince Street. The new building will be twice the size of the current Museum at 583 Broadway in Soho. In addition to providing dramatically increased, flexible exhibition space, the Bowery facility will offer an innovative new media center, a black box theater, a bookstore, expanded classrooms, a study center, and a café.

SANAA's concept for the site proposes a series of shifting "sculptural boxes" that allow for skylights on every level, each with a slightly different proportion and character. Their design demonstrates an efficient, elegant approach to the Museum's program needs as well as an innovative response to the zoning requirements of the site.

Construction is expected to begin in fall 2004, with a projected opening date in spring 2006.

Lobby. Street Level.

Lobby. Street Level. View of café and lobby exhibition area.


December 1st, 2003, 12:18 PM

January 12th, 2004, 12:58 PM


July 26th, 2004, 03:22 AM
July 25, 2004

The New Museum's New Non-Museum


The New Museum, temporarily homeless, has turned to outdoor art: Julianne Swartz's periscope-and-telephone installation "Can You Hear Me?" at the Sunshine Hotel.

Marion Wilson's art-vendor's cart.

WHAT does a museum do when it suddenly finds itself without a museum to live in?

If it is the Museum of Modern Art, which has been homeless during its $850 million renovation on West 53rd Street, the answer is the art-world equivalent of an expensive New York real estate shuffle: purchase an apartment while your town house is being gutted. In the Modern's case, of course, the apartment was very pricey: it cost almost $30 million to buy and convert a former staple factory in Queens into an exhibition space to use for only a couple of years.

So when the New Museum of Contemporary Art decided in 2001 to pack up its home of 21 years on Broadway and board the art bus rolling out of SoHo, a temporary pied-à-terre was out of the question. It simply could not afford one it considered acceptable. Its yearly budget is less than $4 million, and the new home, designed by Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of the Tokyo firm Sanaa, that it plans to open on the Bowery in 2006 will cost $35 million, not that much more than the Modern spent on its outer-borough outpost alone.

But as the New Museum pondered the best ways to exist without walls for more than two years, money was not the most important factor, said Lisa Phillips, its director. More crucial were questions about the identity of the museum itself. Founded by Marcia Tucker in 1977 in rented office space on Hudson Street after she was forced out as a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum's radical mission was to question the whole idea of the museum. What should one be? Should one be? And if so, what kinds of art qualified as "museum-quality" art?

"I wanted to see if this museum could provide a model for an institution to work that wasn't institutional," said Ms. Tucker — who decreed, for example, that all full-time staff workers, including herself, would receive the same salary, that decisions would be made (at least in theory) democratically, that there would be no permanent collection, that more contact between artists and visitors would be encouraged and that accepted boundaries between art and life would be attacked at every turn. Her motto, she said, was "act first and think later, so you actually have something to think about."

Over the next two decades, she tried hard to live up to the motto, in the process helping to redefine the role of the museum even as the New Museum's own shows were sometimes ridiculed, sometimes actively loathed. (Enraged viewers threw trash cans through the plate-glass windows of one infamous show that included do-it-yourself flag-burning kits.)

In the 1980's, the museum put together shows that examined the pressing problems right outside its own doors, like AIDS and — appropriately for the museum's situation now — homelessness. It also explored how some artists make their lives into art, the kind that does not fit into museums: one show described the "work" of the artist Tehching Hsieh, who lived outdoors for an entire year, during which time he vowed not to "look at, make, read about, or talk about art, or enter a museum or gallery."

As the museum aged and Ms. Tucker stepped down in 1999, the museum's iconoclasm waned, perhaps necessarily. In 2000, it accepted its first corporate donation of artworks. It is now considering the once-heretical idea of maintaining a permanent collection, and its most recent fund-raiser was held at Cipriani 42nd Street, the cavernous mess hall of the well-heeled.

But Ms. Phillips said that she and the museum's curators were still acutely aware of the need to use the transition to the new building as an opportunity to think again about the definition of the museum. And so, while it has taken 7,000 square feet of space on the first floor of the Chelsea Art Museum on West 22nd Street for a year, its curators decided that the first major show would not be within walls, but outside them.

Called "Counter Culture," the show, which remains in place until Aug. 14, features five works that visitors will be able to find, if they are somewhat intrepid, on or around the stretch of the Bowery where the new New Museum will rise on what is now a parking lot.

One work, by Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga, will be installed in an alley behind the site. Another, by a group called Flux Factory, invites viewers to enter a martial-arts supply store, walk up to the counter and say a special password, "Gert Frobe," to gain access to a part of the store usually off limits to the public. (For non-James Bond fans, Gert Frobe is the name of the actor who played Goldfinger; Flux Factory uses its "installation" to imagine a kind of alternate Bowery history involving espionage and intrigue instead of flophouses and gin mills.)

Julianne Swartz, whose work was recently in the Whitney Biennial, built a bright yellow conduit of plastic pipe that stretches up the side of the Sunshine Hotel, one of the Bowery's last flophouses, which will be the museum's odd next-door neighbor. The conduit, outfitted with mirrors, allows passersby to peek into the hotel's lounge area, and gives the residents themselves, all men and some very isolated and lonely, a chance to engage in conversation with those below (echoey but intimate, in a tin-can telephone way) if they want to.

Another artist, Marion Wilson, has bartered with residents of the Bowery Mission, an organization for the homeless that is just down the street from the hotel, and has incorporated items donated or sold to her by some of the men there — a faded T-shirt, locks of dreadlocked hair, a bright religious drawing — into her own artwork, which she is selling from a cheery, flower-festooned cart she has begun pushing around the neighborhood like a hot-dog vendor. Not long after she started, she even took on one of the mission's residents as a helper and, in exchange for his work, she is using some of her profits to help him meet his child-support payments.

After a recent church service at the mission, followed by a fried-chicken lunch, Ms. Wilson said she was intrigued from the beginning by the thought of a no-walls show and had even figured out a way to store her art after hours, with no museum nearby to help her.

"The attendant for the parking lot has been very nice, and he says he'll keep it in his booth overnight," she said, explaining that she sees many parallels between her work and the nomadic state of the museum itself.

"I'm like a store without walls," she said. "And I'm going to be very transient, the way the museum is now."

In some ways, the show harks back to a braver world of urban art in New York City in the 1970's, when the museum really was new — for example, to the guerrilla works done by Gordon Matta-Clark, the most famous of which landed him in legal trouble after he sealed off an abandoned Hudson River pier and cut crescent shapes into the walls of a warehouse he did not own. It also brings to mind the dances that Joan Jonas choreographed and filmed amid landfill piles that were later to become part of Battery Park City.

But the New Museum's show is guerrilla art in only the nicest, new-millennium sense. The show's organizer, Melanie Cohn, said that the museum planned to spray-paint a logo near the site of each work, to make them easier for visitors to find. "But it's going to be temporary paint," she said. "We want people to be able to wash it off."

The show is not intended to be confrontational or to underscore the area's disintegration. In fact, it is trying to do the opposite: to say hello to a neighborhood that is rapidly changing from skid row to a row of condos and bars, a gentrification that will be speeded by the museum's arrival there. And the intention is also, while exploring a museum without walls, to introduce its visitors to their new destination.

"Otherwise," Ms. Cohn said, "people really have no reason to go down there and look at a parking lot. But it challenges us to do this, and it also challenges the people who go to see it. In a museum it's easy. But out in the world you think: `Am I going to be able to find it? What am I supposed to do when I find it? Am I trespassing?' You don't know."

Ms. Phillips, during an interview at a coffee shop near the new site, said the museum's staff had been inspired to do the show in part by the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, which was forced to think on its feet when it found a virulent mold in its new building in 2002 and had to close for repairs. Its way of keeping itself alive in the interim was to allow curators at other Swedish museums to dip into its collections and stage shows around the country using its works. It also opened a temporary space in an old post office near a train station and held exhibits that lasted only two weeks.

"We knew we weren't MoMA and we weren't going to go that route, but we very much wanted to keep our presence alive in the city," she said, mentioning the Morgan Library, which decided last year to close completely until expansion is completed in 2006, with very little programming until it reopens.

"Willingness to embrace risk and uncertainty is a positive thing," she said. "And it's especially good for us."

Whether it will be good for longtime visitors to the New Museum or for the Bowery remains to be seen, as art lovers begin to trek eastward, with maps in their hands, and the residents of the Sunshine Hotel await them. Bruce Davis, who has been living in the hotel for many years, said he is keeping an open mind about Ms. Swartz's low-tech communications conduit.

"I couldn't see any reason for it at first," he said the other day, rolling a cigarette in the sparse hotel lounge, as a fan labored weakly against the heat. "Then I realized it must be for some kind of artistic touch."

James Carrow, the hotel's manager, said the residents ignored the bright-yellow contraption at first. But in the first week after it was installed, they slowly began to wander over, stick their heads inside the bell-shaped end of the tube and respond to the strangers, mostly tourists and teenagers, calling up to them.

"I'm surprised people are that curious about us up here," Mr. Carrow said, shaking his head. "But you never know what people are going to like nowadays."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 7th, 2005, 06:04 PM
New at the New Museum


On Tuesday the 28-year-old New Museum of Contemporary Art will break ground for its $35 million building at the Bowery and Prince Street. The 60,000-square-foot, seven-story museum was designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, in partnership as Sanaa of Tokyo.

When the building opens in late 2007, the museum will have a larger curatorial staff. In June, Lisa Phillips, the museum's director, hired Richard Flood, chief curator of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, to be its chief curator. This week she announced the appointment of Laura Hoptman as a curator.

Ms. Hoptman was most recently curator of contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where she organized the 2004-5 Carnegie International. Earlier, she was an assistant curator of drawings at the Museum of Modern Art.

October 15th, 2005, 07:52 PM
On Tuesday the 28-year-old New Museum of Contemporary Art will break ground for its $35 million building at the Bowery and Prince Street.
Bummer, I was hoping they'd invite it to the cultural building at the World Trade Center.

October 15th, 2005, 08:03 PM
Bummer, I was hoping they'd invite it to the cultural building at the World Trade Center.
At this stage I doubt any cultural institution worth its salt would want to put themselves through that dog and pony show.

October 15th, 2005, 08:12 PM
^ Not meant seriously.

October 15th, 2005, 08:17 PM

October 17th, 2005, 01:36 PM
If the families saw some of the exhibitions at the New Museum, they would never complain about the IFC.

January 19th, 2006, 06:20 AM
January 19, 2006

Critic's Notebook

Art and Architecture, Together Again


A rendering of the New Museum of Contemporary Art's new Bowery home, facing east from Prince Street, with a sample sculptural exhibit.

A rendering of one of the galleries planned for the New Museum of Contemporary Art; the project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2007.

Those with long memories may recall the days when New York modern art institutions were not only in tune with contemporary culture but also determined to drive it forward. At the New Museum of Contemporary Art, that spirit is back in force.

In late November, the museum broke ground on its new home on a decrepit strip of the Bowery on the Lower East Side. And while some of the design details are still being tweaked, it is now razor-clear that the building will do more to freshen the bond between Manhattan's art and architecture communities than any building since Marcel Breuer's Whitney Museum of American Art opened on Madison Avenue four decades ago.

The aluminum-clad building, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, founders of the Tokyo architectural firm Sanaa, evokes a stack of mismatched boxes on the verge of toppling over. Firmly rooted in the present, it is a remarkably sensitive exploration of the relationship between art, architecture and the human beings who animate them.

The project, scheduled for completion in the fall of 2007, could not come at a better time. In recent years, it has become dismally clear that the art institutions that redefined New York culture in the 20th century are no longer invested in propelling it forward in the 21st. Despite its elegance, the recent $850 million expansion of the Museum of Modern Art had more to do with consolidating the museum's position as an arbiter of high taste than with engaging in the messy, ever-shifting realities of the art and cultural scenes.

In 2003 the Whitney Museum signaled that it valued security over experimentation when it dropped a radical design for an addition by Rem Koolhaas, eventually replacing it with a conservative proposal by Renzo Piano.

It would be unfair to expect the Modern to play the same cultural role it did in the 1930's, when it was probably the single most powerful force in introducing Americans to European Modernism. Yet as these institutions have quietly receded into middle age, they have left a void in the heart of the city. The New Museum is one of the few New York art institutions with the courage to fill it.

Rising seven stories at a choice site where Prince Street ends at the Bowery, the museum clearly sought to bind itself to what's left of the youthful downtown scene. Its position at the end of Prince, one of SoHo's main axes, suggests a link to the SoHo art scene of the 1960's and 1970's - a nod to the creative fervor that reigned in the neighborhood before it was transformed into a glorified shopping mall.

The ghosts of SoHo drift in and out of the design. Wrapped in a woven aluminum mesh skin, the stacked forms give the composition a mysterious quality, suggesting a culture in constant flux.

They are also tough enough to stand up to the Bowery's mix of restaurant supply stores, dying single-room-occupancy hotels and shiny new residential towers. Amid the crush of commercial traffic from the Manhattan Bridge, the building will seem solid and industrial. At night, when the streets are barren, it is apt to be more ethereal and moody.

Sanaa is known for both the clean precision of its forms and a knack for unearthing the softer qualities of glass. The layering of transparent and reflective surfaces in the marvelous Christian Dior building in Tokyo, for example, give the interiors a luxurious milky quality, like layers of veils.

But the New Museum's design is intended as more than a metaphor; it is also to be a concrete realization of the museum's values. The street-level façade will be entirely transparent, like a shop window. The idea is to bring the experience of viewing art to the street, reaffirming the institution's role as a public forum. The main floor is divided lengthwise into a lobby and a loading dock that will be visible from the street, so that the process of transporting art is open to public view.

The lobby, echoing the proportions of an old downtown loft, is divided into a series of lively public zones, beginning with a ticket counter and cafe and culminating in a large glass-enclosed gallery - a fish bowl of the art world.

The informality of the arrangement reflects how the contemporary art world is changing as barriers between the various arts dissolve. Creation is a collaborative act in which the audience plays a role: at the New Museum, art, architecture, graphic design, film and the public will all jostle for attention.

That embracing vision extends to the very top of the museum, where a 3,000-square-foot multipurpose space will offer sweeping views over the area's old tenement blocks to the dense cluster of towers on Wall Street.

The quiet simplicity of the galleries, sandwiched in the middle floors, offers a momentary repose. The beauty of the shifting setbacks on each floor is that it allowed the architects to create skylights on every level, illuminating them with a blend of natural and artificial light.

In the fourth-floor gallery, for example, natural light will wash down the south wall through a long slotlike skylight while the rest of the room will be illuminated by lights hidden above a mesh ceiling.

Purists who believe that architecture should take a back seat to art may grumble that the uneven blend of natural and artificial light will be distracting. But the result will be atmospheric, with the mood of each room shifting slightly over the course of the day depending on the weather. In their choice of materials - from the smooth concrete floors to the exposed steel I-beams - the architects sensitize the visitor to the tactile qualities of the world around them. The aim is to lure us out of our everyday stupor, to open our hearts to the art.

Of course, one building alone cannot remake a culture. But Lisa Phillips, the museum's director, clearly found the right architect for her building. And she has brought in curators who have no interest in preserving the status quo; instead they envision the museum as a laboratory for cultural change.

The question on every New York architect's lips is whether the museum will be willing to organize the kind of architecture shows we so desperately crave: shows with a strong critical point of view, like the ones that MoMA mounted in its glory days.

Rarely, in today's New York, does a building project inspire so much confidence in the future.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

January 19th, 2006, 10:39 AM
This building is awesome. It is really amazing to see how the Bowery is changing. The area also is a great one to house a contemporary art museum.

October 16th, 2006, 09:51 PM
Crazy steel going up on this one ...

Here's what the New Museum will look like when complete:


And here's what it looks like today ...

Some shots, starting with steel popping up over the neighbors taken from Chrystie / Stanton and then working around to the Bowery and then away from it down Spring Street:


October 17th, 2006, 03:25 PM
Lofter, who took those photos?

EDIT: nevermind, I made my way up to the BOA thread. Good to see you finally equipped with something!

October 17th, 2006, 05:44 PM
Love your photos, lofter.:)

October 17th, 2006, 06:17 PM
Thanks ;)

Somebody over at curbed (http://www.curbed.com/archives/2006/10/17/new_museum_update_feeling_dizzy.php) took some shots -- looks like yesterday, as well.

It seems from the way the diagonal steel is going up here that most of the light in this one will be coming in through skylights ...

October 18th, 2006, 08:35 PM


Stu_Jo's photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/15937237@N00/)

November 15th, 2006, 08:09 PM
This one is topped out with structural steel -- the flag is flying ...

They are now erecting the roof-top frame work (the upper-most cube) which will house all of the mechanicals / water towers.

The upper floors are visible throughout the LES and up & down the Bowery...


November 15th, 2006, 08:56 PM
First exhibit suggestion: Fernando Botero...

http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7756&page=4, scroll down.

November 15th, 2006, 11:15 PM
I love this design and its location. Keeping the LES a funky mish mash. Lots of creative, less than typical, colorful and craftily shaped buildings down there. One can argue endlessly about the loss of old, historic buildings and old New York, but there are these little gems (or gems by rendering) that are popping up at the most unusual places.

November 19th, 2006, 10:11 AM
Marcia Tucker, 66, Founder of a Radical Art Museum, Dies

Chester Higgins Jr.
The New York Times, 1998
Marcia Tucker

nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/19/obituaries/19tucker.html?ex=1318910400&en=725d9e714c396472&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss)
October 19, 2006

Marcia Tucker, a forceful curator who responded to being fired from the Whitney Museum of American Art by founding the New Museum of Contemporary Art, died on Tuesday at her home in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 66.

Ms. Tucker learned several years ago that she had cancer, but a spokeswoman for the New Museum did not specify the cause of death.

In establishing the New Museum in 1977 when she was 37, Ms. Tucker continued the proactive impulses of an older generation of women who helped create the foremost modern art museums in New York: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller of the Museum of Modern Art, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Juliana Force of the Whitney and Hilla Rebay of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

But Ms. Tucker, who was born in Brooklyn, came of age in the 1960’s and was a product of her time. She said that her motto in founding the museum was, “Act first, think later — that way you have something to think about.”

Her encounters with feminism in college became the basis of a political activism that permeated much of what she did. But it was balanced by an omnivorous passion for art. In the early 1970’s she belonged to the Redstockings, a feminist group. In the 1980’s it was often rumored that she belonged to the gorilla-masked Guerrilla Girls, feminist watchdogs of the art world. Later she helped form an a cappella singing group called the Art Mob (singing alto) and also sometimes performed as a stand-up comedian.

In a sense she made the New Museum, which she ran for 22 years as director, in her own image: a somewhat chaotic, idealistic place where the nature of art was always in question, exhibitions were a form of consciousness raising and mistakes were inevitable. She also wanted the museum to welcome art that was excluded elsewhere because it was difficult, out of fashion, unsalable or made by artists who were not white or male or straight.

The daughter of a trial lawyer, Ms. Tucker was born Marcia Silverman and grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and then New Jersey in a household that took politics and culture seriously. Drawn to art from an early age, she studied theater and art at Connecticut College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1961 and spent her junior year at the École du Louvre in Paris.

Her first job was as a secretary in the department of prints and drawings at the Museum of Modern Art; she soon quit because she was asked to sharpen too many pencils. She went on to earn a master’s degree in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and worked as an editorial associate at Art News magazine.

She also supported herself by cataloging private collections, including those of Alfred H. Barr Jr., the first director of the Museum of Modern Art, and the independently wealthy painter William N. Copley. She was especially close with Mr. Barr and his wife, Margaret Scolari Barr.

Ms. Tucker acquired her surname Tucker in an early marriage. Survivors include her current husband, Dean McNeil; their daughter, Ruby; and her brother, Warren Silverman.

In 1969 Ms. Tucker became a curator of painting and sculpture at the Whitney. She almost immediately helped point the museum in a new direction with “Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials,” the first large show of Process Art, or Post-Minimalism, in an American museum, organized with James Monte, another Whitney curator.

Her subsequent shows included surveys of the painters James Rosenquist, Joan Mitchell and Al Held, and the Post-Minimalists Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman and Richard Tuttle. The harsh reviews of the ephemeral, hard-to-find artworks in the Tuttle show eventually led to her dismissal in 1977.

That same year, after assembling a board of trustees that included the philanthropist Vera List, she opened the New Museum on Fifth Avenue at 14th Street, on the ground floor of a building owned by what is now the New School.

At the New Museum she emphasized inclusive group shows with provocative titles like “ ‘Bad’ Painting” and “Bad Girls,” insisted that the museum guards be knowledgeable about the art on view and planned to de-accession the collection every decade to keep the museum young. She served as series editor of “Documentary Sources in Contemporary Art,” five anthologies of theory and criticism.

Her most notorious show, “Have You Attacked America Today?,” caused garbage cans to be thrown through the plate-glass window of the museum, which had by then moved to Broadway in SoHo. (The museum is constructing a new $35 million building on the Lower East Side, which is expected to open late next year. Until then it is sharing gallery space with the Chelsea Art Museum.)

John Walsh, then director of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, Calif., described Ms. Tucker in especially apt terms in a 1993 article in The New York Times: “There’s always been a social conscience in Marcia that’s impatient and results in a kind of alertness you can just read across her forehead like a Jenny Holzer sign.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

November 19th, 2006, 10:18 AM
The Woman Who Ate the Carnations

David B. Hayt
Marcia Tucker, right, and Maxine Hayt, the author’s mother, dressed as witches for Halloween.

nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/19/nyregion/thecity/19marc.html?_r=1&ref=thecity&oref=slogin)

November 19, 2006

New York Observed

On Oct. 19, the day the obituary appeared, my mother, Maxine, called to tell me in a flat voice that the cancer had finally killed Marcia Tucker, the renegade museum curator, feminist and political activist.

The news prompted a jumble of reactions and memories. This woman had changed my mother’s life and, in so doing, turned our family upside down.

The upheaval started in 1977, when I was 16, and my brothers 14 and 12. That was the year the Whitney Museum of American Art fired Marcia, then 37, after her show of Richard Tuttle’s iconoclastic work. The dismissal emboldened her to make a gutsy move: with meager financial backing, she founded the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Downtown Manhattan. Her motto was: “Act first, think later. That way, you’ll have something to think about.”

At the time, my mother was a frustrated 40-year-old homemaker with a two-pack-a-day smoking habit. She had once been a promising painter, but she gave up pursuing a career as an artist after marrying my father, bearing three children and settling in Great Neck, the wealthy Long Island suburb. When we were little, she tried to channel her thwarted creativity into taking needlepoint classes and designing fliers for our school fairs.

She also took art classes at a local college and claimed a small sunroom off our kitchen as a studio, where she drew grand-scale portraits of Bowery bums whom she had enlisted my father to photograph, offering them cigarettes in exchange for taking their picture. But she remained adrift, without connection to others who might validate or challenge her work. Was she simply a Sunday painter, she must have wondered to herself.

Angry, depressed and desperate to establish her own identity, she sought help from an Upper East Side psychiatrist, who happened to mention that another patient of hers had just opened a museum on a shoestring and needed volunteers.

It was shortly after my mother started work there that the two of them met. Marcia introduced herself and extended her hand. My mother’s hands were dirty from unpacking boxes, and so she declined to shake. Marcia didn’t care. They clasped hands and arm wrestled instead of letting go.

The tussle was prophetic. Marcia enjoined my mother to take herself seriously as an artist. In response, my mother moved out of the sunroom and took over the basement of our ranch house. She began to assemble a battle scene out of dismembered toy action figures that she reconfigured, lacquered in bright colors and adorned with feathers, beads and rhinestones.

The creation, which included a three-foot-high plaster volcano that my mother had gotten my father to wire so that it emitted puffs of smoke, represented a phantasmagorical apocalypse. Was my mother exorcising her demons, I wondered, or embracing them?

To be honest, her transformation was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it was cool having a mother who didn’t play tennis or wear spiffy Ralph Lauren. On the contrary, she subscribed to Artforum, dressed in denim work shirts and had a kooky new friend who favored velvet-fringed scarves and encouraged my mother to let her naturally frizzy hair go wild.

When Marcia wanted to go out to lunch wearing pink plastic shower bonnets, my mother jumped at the chance. When she and my father discovered that my brothers were growing marijuana in the backyard, my parents hauled the crop to Marcia’s, where she baked pot brownies and everyone got stoned out of his mind.

But my mother’s adventures left a void. She abandoned all domestic duties, staying out late in the city with Marcia and Marcia’s new and much younger artist husband. My harried father took up the grocery shopping, my brothers resentfully cooked dinner, and I retreated to my room, lonely for my mother but not able to do anything about it.

When my mother was around, things weren’t much better. Descending to the basement to work, she found temporary solace, though for us, her self-absorption felt like a rejection. My brothers and I blamed Marcia, whom we now saw as a Svengali, luring my mother away from the family.

When Marcia introduced my mother to a shy, penniless, misanthropic artist named David who shared her nicotine cough and her macabre fascinations, it seemed as if we had lost her completely. The two of them were constantly on the phone or at his apartment on St. Marks Place, a one-room space painted blood red and filled with crucifixes. She took him to dinner at One Fifth Avenue, where they drank bubbly and sang, “I get no kick from Champagne.” When he dared her to eat the floral centerpiece, she swallowed a carnation.

He visited our house — the first gay person to do so, as far as we knew — wearing a toreador-style black and gold-tasseled bolero. Keeping his eyes averted, he chain-smoked mutely. It was a relief when he and my mother slipped away to the basement.

There, however, he was blown away by what he saw. He insisted that Marcia rush to Great Neck to see my mother’s new work. Marcia duly appeared not long after, and when she glimpsed the genocidal tableaux from the top of the staircase landing, she burst out, “Do an installation for the front window of the New Museum!”

WHEN The New York Times printed a photograph of my mother’s assemblage, the event represented the turning point in her life. She was now a “real” artist who deserved to live among other “real” artists. SoHo summoned.

In 1984, with the purchase of a loft on Wooster Street, my mother finally secured her independence. By then, my brothers and I had left for college. My father remained on Long Island, to which my mother commuted on weekends. My father became increasingly preoccupied with photography.

The next decade started on a low but ended with a high note. David died of AIDS, my mother at his bedside, holding his hand. Her first grandchild — my son — was born, and, motivated by the desire to live to see him grow up, she quit smoking. In 1994, Marcia included my mother’s work in the New Museum’s “Bad Girls” exhibition, a feminist critique of sentiment and sentimentality. My mother hired a studio assistant and had a handful of gallery shows, one of them in Paris.

Then, in 1999, after 22 years at the helm of the New Museum, Marcia stepped down, having learned she was sick, and she eventually moved to California. My mother offered to visit, but Marcia declined, making excuses. My mother was baffled and hurt.

Yet she continued on course. Last year, she sold her loft and bought an apartment in the Flatiron district with two bedrooms, one of which now serves as studio where she draws obsessive, eccentric images of deformed and crazy people. Her work has become a deeply private, fulfilling form of self-expression. And against the odds, my parents’ marriage has survived.

What is ironic is that despite my brothers’ and my fears — despite, truth be told, my jealousy of the attention my mother lavished on Marcia and the impenetrable intimacy they shared — my mother’s pursuit of her own creative impulses didn’t lead to a broken home. Her liberation gave her the room she needed to stay married to my father; in fact, her art was partly their collaboration. She came to see him as a talented photographer.

The inadvertent outcome of Marcia’s intervention in my mother’s life is that our family is now richer and very much united. Who could have imagined that the death of a bohemian interloper would make me wish I’d had the chance to thank her?

Elizabeth Hayt’s memoir, “I’m No Saint: Memoir of a Wayward Wife,” has just been published in paperback by Warner.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

December 13th, 2006, 03:44 PM
The New Museum is under wraps while concrete is poured on the floor plates ...


Meanwhile, a block south on The Bowery another less artfully designed jumble of boxes has risen ...



And across the street, the grand hulk of a palazzo at 90 Bowery offers a greeting to the new arrivals ...


December 13th, 2006, 04:11 PM
While we all wait for the New Museum to open the gang at the ever-mysterious building at 11 Spring (around the corner at Spring & Elizabeth) is going whole hog for the big bash taking place there (reportedly) this weekend ...

Cool pics at the wooster collective link below and HERE (http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2006/12/04/11_spring_stree_1.php)

Wooster on Spring -
The Dates (December 15, 16, 17)

woostercollective.com (http://www.woostercollective.com/2006/12/wooster_on_spring_the_dates_december_15.html)

As we begin to receive emails from people from all over the world who are flying in for the Wooster on Spring three day open house, we're pleased to let you know that as of this moment the plan is to open the building up to the public for three days in December - Friday December 15, Saturday December 16, and Sunday December 17.

While we haven't locked in the exact hours on the 15th, 16th, and 17th, the plan is to open the building in the day to the public in the daytime.

More details coming soon ...


Some recent pics of 11 Spring ...

The Magic Way In ...


This morning the gang had taken the ART beyond the building and into the streets:


But by night the whole building seems to be expressing a sense of ennui with all the hype ...


December 13th, 2006, 08:00 PM
Last Hurrah for Street Art, as Canvas Goes Condo

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Caroline Cummings, one of the new owner-developers of 11 Spring Street, a building in NoLIta
whose exterior has long attracted street artists from all over the world.

nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/14/arts/design/14graf.html?hp&ex=1166072400&en=d82755eb266e08c7&ei=5094&partner=homepage)

December 14, 2006

It was as if someone had told devotees of Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon” or Matisse’s “Dance” that the Museum of Modern Art had changed hands and would soon be shut down for residential redevelopment, with all the art inside to vanish as part of the deal.

In this case the art is not hanging inside the building but is splashed all over the walls outside, in spray paint, wheat paste, rubber, plastic, metal, cardboard and various other unidentifiable substances, a story-high gallery of graffiti and street art that seems to have grown almost organically (and mostly unimpeded by the authorities) over the last two decades.

Depending on your point of view, the hulking 19th-century brick building at 11 Spring Street in NoLIta, a former stable and carriage house, was either a stunning eyesore or one of the most famous canvases and lodestars in the world for urban artists. When those of the latter view heard recently that the building had been sold and would soon be gutted and converted into condominiums, they considered it the end of an era. Bearing their cameras, they began showing up at the building over the last few weeks in a kind of mournful procession.

But inside the building over those same weeks, an unlikely tribute to 11 Spring’s history — and a brief reprieve for its artwork — was also quietly taking shape.

After buying the building several months ago, the new owner-developers, Caroline Cummings and Bill Elias, wanted to find some way to bid an appropriate farewell to its past. They admired the artwork, they said, even if there was no way it could remain on a building where buyers would soon be dropping millions of dollars on new condos.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Fleeting tribute to fleeting art: Marc Schiller, left, street-art documentarian; Malcolm Stevenson,
construction manager; and Caroline Cummings, an owner of 11 Spring, with works
that will be on view just three days.

They contacted Marc and Sara Schiller, longtime documentarians of street art whose Web site, woostercollective.com (http://woostercollective.com/), collects thousands of pictures of such art from around the world. The group decided that the best salute would be to stage one last, thoroughly legal, art-making hurrah, inviting some of the best-known graffiti and street artists in the world, many of whose work already loomed large on the outside of the building, to take over the inside and completely cover five floors, 30,000 square feet of brick wall space, with work.

The art would then stay up only for a few days before the contractors moved in with drywall to cover up the interior works and pressure hoses to erase those on the outside. There would be no sponsors, no press releases, no payments to the artist and no artwork for sale. As much as it is still possible in today’s art world, it would be art for art’s sake, a fleeting salute to a fleeting form.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Doze Green, one of the 45 street artists, takes part in an unlikely tribute to 11 Spring’s history.

Now, after nearly two months of work by 45 artists, the show is almost ready. The building’s doors will be unlocked tomorrow for an open house that will continue through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. On Monday work will begin that will eventually seal most of the interior artwork behind pipes, wires and drywall.

“In a way the art is all going to disappear, but it’s also going to be sealed up in this incredible time capsule,” said Mr. Schiller, walking through the building Tuesday afternoon as more than a dozen artists continued to work on their pieces in a haze of aerosol fumes and sawdust.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
A heating unit painted by Darkcloud.

Several of the artists involved in the project are still little known outside the street art world, but others have become highly successful designers, marketers and gallery darlings. Many converged on short notice from around the world to create artwork, some flown in and housed at the developers’ expense.

Shepard Fairey, a veritable rock star in the street art world, came from Los Angeles before jetting off again for the Art Basel fair in Miami Beach. D*Face, a London artist who once proposed to his fiancée by painting the question on 11 Spring Street, flew in from north of the Arctic Circle, where he had been commissioned to create an artwork for the Icehotel in Sweden.

And Jace, who created a piece on the building’s fifth floor that includes a frighteningly large mousetrap, made of wood and metal and baited with a huge bag of fake money — a clear jab at the development that is about to transform the building — probably won the prize for longest commute. He flew in from the island of Réunion, east of Madagascar, where he lives, spent several days in the building and then returned.

“It’s like a family reunion we’ve got here,” said one artist in from Milan who calls himself Bo and works with a partner, a small woman who calls herself Microbo. “Except some of the family you’ve never met before.”

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Jasmine Zimmerman weaves together rubber bands at 11 Spring Street.

The other evening, as music blared from multiple stereos, about a dozen artists were arrayed among the floors, still at work. One known as Lady Pink, a veteran New York graffiti artist, was applying the last touches to a large, pink supine version of the Statue of Liberty that was being impaled with a cross but seeming somehow to enjoy it.

Mr. Schiller, passing by the work with Ms. Cummings, smiled. “This is probably the most political work we’ve got in here,” he said.

Lady Pink smiled back. “Oh, it gets more political than this, believe me,” she said.

Downstairs two members of a younger generation of street artists, a pair of New York-based twins who call themselves Skewville, went outside to look again at one of their favorite pieces — one that will soon become history — a very realistic-looking fake air vent that, if you look closely, spells “fake.”

Early one morning a couple of years ago, they bolted it to a wall above one of the building’s doors.

Ms. Cummings went outside to look at it with them and told them that she thought it was a great work of art. One of the twins looked at it and agreed. “Basically, she bought our piece for $10 million,” he said, “and the building was thrown in for free.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

December 13th, 2006, 08:33 PM
jakedobkin's flikr slideshow (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluejake/show/)

December 14th, 2006, 04:23 PM
I'm excited to check this out, but I'm really worried it's gonna be a mad house; completely packed.

December 15th, 2006, 06:20 PM
I got there early today -- the big foll-up door on Elizabeth finally slid up about 11:30 and (due to the structural situation and the C/O) they could only let in a certain number of people at a time.

Definitely worth the wait ...

Marc and Sara Schiller from the Wooster Collective (http://www.woostercollective.com/2006/12/wooster_on_spring_-_the_countdown_begins.html) were on hand to keep things moving smoothly and to offer insight into the artists and their work.

Cool stuff abounds -- excellent work througout all four floors.

And, of course, everybody had a camera ...

For lots of fantastic pics check out woostercollective (http://www.woostercollective.com/), gothamist (http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2006/12/15/11_spring_stree_2.php) and streetsy (http://streetsy.com/)

Here's a close-up from the amazing collaboration by Judith Supine (New York) and Rekal (Venice, Italy) that greets you as you enter the first floor:


December 15th, 2006, 06:31 PM
^ Arresting.

December 15th, 2006, 07:14 PM
Here's the entire piece, which is quite large ( ~ 20' x 15' ):


December 16th, 2006, 07:59 PM
Dare I reduce such artistry to the mundane?... That painting would make a great T-shirt! Fantastic.

December 16th, 2006, 11:40 PM
If you want to judge the work from a photo, be my guest ...

December 17th, 2006, 12:12 AM
^Happens all the time. I think you may have mistakenly interpreted my comment as an unfavorable impression of the painting?? To be clear, it was not intended that way. Obviously I'd have to visit the museum to get a true sense of the artwork, but having been opened for only days, the opportunity to go to the museum has been minimal. Photography is a good way to show art (or architecture) to others who can't see it in person. It's not ideal, but it's better than a thousand words, no? Otherwise why would you post post pictures of this painting? And I do appreciate your sharing them. Thanks.

December 17th, 2006, 10:21 AM
Excuse my grouchiness from last evening ...

The photo really doesn't do the piece full justice, both due to the size of the actual piece and the subtleties of the application and vibrancy of color that can be seen when viewing the piece in place.

No doubt this exhibition will be photo-documented like crazy -- which will give just a small sense of what the artists have presented.

I like it that the works will remain in the building (although covered-over by new construction).

December 17th, 2006, 10:27 AM
the works will remain in the building (although covered-over by new construction).
riche lieu.

December 18th, 2006, 12:25 PM
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We found 4,683 photos about 11spring

March 28th, 2007, 03:42 PM

On the Bowery, a New Home for New Art

Published: March 28, 2007

Officials at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, which is moving from
SoHo, say the new building on the Bowery will change the face of the
Lower East Side when it opens at the end of the year.

Audio Slide Show
A New Building for the New Museum (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/khtml/2007/03/27/arts/artsspecial/20070328_BIRTH_AUDIOSS.html)

Massimiliano Gioni and Laura Hoptman, two of the new curators
at the New Museum, went to Puerto Rico to see work for their
international sculpture show.

Renderings of the museum, inside and out.

A gathering of board members and staffers of the museum
at the site of the new building, which is under construction.

The artist Charles Juhász-Alvarado, left, with trustees from the New Museum during a visit to his studio in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

NAMING rights for a museum’s grand spaces are part of the deal for valued donors these days. But when the New Museum of Contemporary Art began its capital campaign for a $50 million building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the bathrooms were the first places to be christened.

“I’m 83,” said Jerome L. Stern, a retired venture capitalist, “and I thought it would be nice to see my name in a place where I’m going to spend a lot of time.”

As a result of his generosity, the museum’s four public bathrooms will be the Jerome and Ellen Stern Restrooms. While Mr. Stern would not say exactly what they cost, he said the price tag was in the six figures.

At institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art, such a check may get you an invitation to a fancy dinner or a peek at a private art collection with one of its curators, but it would not get your name on so much as a filing cabinet. Nonetheless, the art world uptown is paying close attention to the New Museum’s building rising on the Bowery. When it opens at the end of the year, its jutting, silvery configuration will be an architectural landmark for New York City and another addition to the cultural building boom sweeping the country.

But beyond the concrete and steel, the New Museum shows how a lesser-known institution can attract attention by taking chances. It hired an adventurous team of architects. It has diversified its board of trustees. It is doubling its staff, bolstering its exhibition schedule and greatly expanding its education activities.

Combine that with the museum’s re-energized mission — to showcase the newest art — and the result is an institution that poses a bold challenge to established museums. With the contemporary art market boiling over as newly rich collectors compete at fairs, auctions and galleries, the New Museum will be a ready-made hive for dealers, clients and the Prada-clad art-world swarm that follows them. For artists, having works on display there could bring faster recognition and probably higher prices.

The image of scrappy contender extends to the trustees, who like to say they are “shirt-sleeve, not black-tie” and delight in flouting the conventions of older museums.

Lisa Phillips, the museum’s director, spent 23 years as a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art before joining the New Museum in 1999. She “has put together a board with people other institutions have wanted to get on their boards,” said Arne Glimcher, chairman of the PaceWildenstein Gallery. “But they choose the New Museum because they sense the energy and commitment.”

She has also attracted prominent talent to work with her, like Massimiliano Gioni, a curator at the most recent Berlin Biennial; Richard Flood, the former chief curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; and Laura Hoptman, a former curator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

VideoMore Video »
For the opening exhibition in the new building, the three curators are putting together an international sculpture show.

Ms. Phillips’s credentials are not too dissimilar to those of the founder of the New Museum, Marcia Tucker, who started it in 1977, the day after she was fired from her position as a curator at the Whitney. Her dismissal came just two weeks after the closing of a Richard Tuttle exhibition, at the time one of the Whitney’s most provocative.

The New Museum first opened in a poky office space on Hudson Street and then moved several times. Its new home, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Tokyo firm Sanaa, will be a seven-story 60,000-square-foot building on the site of an old parking lot at 235 Bowery at Prince Street, a dramatic configuration of irregularly stacked boxes clad in shiny metal. The museum will have more than twice its previous exhibition space, as well as a floor for educational activities, a 200-seat theater, a cafe and a bookstore.

In the gazetteer of small New York museums, the New Museum is racing to the top of the page. The Dia Art Foundation lost its most generous donor last year when Leonard Riggio resigned from the foundation, and it has no place in Manhattan to mount exhibitions after closing its two Chelsea spaces in 2004. The Drawing Center, without a director for a year, is moving from its SoHo home to a former Fulton Fish Market site near the South Street Seaport.

“It’s not about the money, its about the people; that’s why we’ve been so successful,” said Saul Dennison, the longtime president of the New Museum. “Everyone is passionate about contemporary art, and everyone on the board actually likes each other.”

Larger institutions require people to make multimillion-dollar donations to get on a board, but at the New Museum a candidate has to prove a commitment to contemporary art and the ability to get along with the current trustees. Being a board member requires a minimum annual contribution of $25,000 as well as a six-figure check for the building campaign, although several trustees stretched into the seven figures, Ms. Phillips said. Trustees say they have many more people wanting to join the board — which Ms. Phillips has expanded to 35 from 18 — than will ever win a place.

Before asking someone to join the board, members want prospective trustees to become involved with the museum by joining a museum committee, which often involves participating in museum-organized trips.

“We like to spend time getting to know the person before getting married,” Ms. Phillips said. “Our expectations are completely different than, say, the MoMA board.”

One trustee, James-Keith Brown, started his association with the New Museum in the mid-1990s by joining the producers council, a $5,000-a-year benefactor group that does things like visiting artists’ studios and taking trips led by the museum’s curators. He recalls that as a young contemporary art collector, he found it an entertaining group that offered a good opportunity to meet like-minded collectors.

“At the time, I was also working on the young collectors group at the Guggenheim,” he said. “But this was different. It showed me a new way of looking at things.”

With the hedge fund professionals fueling the market for contemporary art, it would be easy to fill a board with young Wall Street wizards. But the museum’s board isn’t just made up of financiers like Mr. Brown — or of New Yorkers. The trustees are an international group ranging from collectors in their early 40s to people in their 80s, from retailers to curators.

The board spent a year scouring the city for its new home. “It wasn’t till we saw the empty parking lot on the Lower East Side that we knew we’d found the spot,” Ms. Phillips said. “The board saw the potential before I did. They saw right away how consistent it was with the museum’s mission. They loved the fact that the neighborhood was rough and the street was languishing, and that it was a major avenue with easy subway access.”

Knowing how much to spend was the first order of business. That meant knowing what the museum could get for its previous home in SoHo. (In 2002, it sold for $18 million.) The New Museum was able to buy the Bowery site for $5 million. That meant it had to start a capital campaign drive to raise an estimated $64 million to cover the building and endowment. To date, more than $60 million has been raised.

Unlike, say, the Whitney, MoMA or Dia, which have all had one or two supergenerous leaders writing unusually big checks to carry a project, the New Museum does not have what it calls “the 500-pound gorilla.”

“This is a group that has its eye on the ball,” said Stephanie French, a board member who was the head of philanthropy at Philip Morris and now works in wealth management at U.S. Trust. “It’s a self-examining group. We know we need to be realistic, and as the budget grows, we realize we’ll have to keep raising money.”

When she founded the museum, Ms. Tucker decided it should buy works and sell them 10 years later so that its collection would always be new. It was an innovative plan that was never carried out. The museum now has a modest collection of about 1,000 works in many media. Ms. Phillips said that while it did not consider itself a collecting institution, it will add to its collections through gifts and commissions.

Many on the board think that not having a large collection is a big advantage. For starters, it’s difficult for a museum dedicated to new art to have a collection. “We want to always be on the cutting edge,” said Dieter Bogner, an independent museum curator from Vienna. “It’s a building for the future, the next generation, unlike most museums, which are a place to see the past.”

William E. Ford, who is in the private equity business and has been a board member for two and a half years, said: “When you look at programs at MoMA, the Whitney or the Guggenheim, they all need to mount blockbusters to support their buildings. The gravity of their collections is a lens through which they see themselves. Since we’re not bound by these constraints, it allows us to concentrate on our programs.”

Mitzi Eisenberg, a trustee who was one of the founders of Bed Bath & Beyond, said she was proud that the museum took risks. “We’ve given a chance to artists many people had never heard of, like Richard Prince and Jeff Koons,” she said. Now they are superstars.

Ms. Phillips said the museum planned to continue exhibiting new talent and underrecognized artists, giving many their first opportunity to be shown in a museum.

Officials at the museum also say that once the new building opens, it will change the complexion of the Lower East Side, just as its presence changed SoHo in the early 1980s, when it provoked a rush of galleries to Broadway.

“It will become an exciting place to go,” Ms. Eisenberg said.

With growth comes the fear that the museum may become more like others — a larger place with a bigger building and even more ambition — which could mean losing its edge and settling in to middle age.

Paul T. Schnell, a Manhattan lawyer and longtime board member, sees the challenge ahead. “We can’t become a victim of our own success,” he said. “We’re all very conscious that there’s a risk of losing our edge. It’s something the board and the staff worry about. So much so, that we’re all committed to making sure that that won’t happen.”

Link to the Full Article (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/28/arts/artsspecial/28birth.html), which also has a time-lapse video of the museum's construction.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

March 28th, 2007, 09:00 PM
The photos and vid are out of date ...

It's now a big yellow box ...


April 24th, 2007, 08:19 PM
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/249/455892419_7b4dbadc30.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/15937237@N00/sets/72157594357299941/)

April 24th, 2007, 08:40 PM
A gathering of board members and staffers of the museum
at the site of the new building, which is under construction.
Mandatory black clothing?

This museum speciales in the individualistic ... right?

April 24th, 2007, 08:57 PM
They look like the people in The Matrix.

April 24th, 2007, 09:04 PM
^ Must be in costume.

April 24th, 2007, 09:43 PM
The photos and vid are out of date ...

It's now a big yellow box ...


This will be awesome! It's funny how NY's most cutting edge architecture is in previously forlorn places (i.e., the Bowry and the High-Line vicinity).

June 27th, 2007, 09:22 PM
6/26: The New Museum




June 27th, 2007, 09:34 PM
^ Contextual as all get-out. Though its a lot bigger than its neighbors, it's right in scale with them: a similar frequency of event, a similar complexity of form.

Right now, extremely nice. Hope the final cladding doesn't ruin it. If it's glass it probably will. (Makes me wish it would stay like this forever.)

June 27th, 2007, 10:39 PM
From the thread for the New Museum of Contemporary Art (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3624&highlight=contemporary) ...

[Seems I was wrong about the translucency :o ]

On the facade (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=9164&postcount=3) :

The Architects

Kazuyo Sejima, 47, and Ryue Nishizawa, 37, have received accolades internationally for work that is luminous and minimal in its aesthetics; sophisticated in its treatment of complex building detail and fluid, non-hierarchical space; and highly original in its use of exterior facades as permeable membranes that establish subtle but provocative relationships between interior and exterior, individual and community, and the realms of public and private experience.

On the materials (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=16873&postcount=5) :

Lunchbox for Art: A New Museum


The New Museum of Contemporary Art wants to build a seven-story bento box for art on the Bowery. Plans and models for this deftly composed lunch break of a building are now on view in the museum's mezzanine gallery, at 583 Broadway, between Houston and Prince Streets in SoHo. Produced by Saana, a Tokyo firm, the design should please those who believe that art museums should be neutral containers. If executed with proper attention to detail, the building will also delight the Victorians among us who incline toward tender passion.

It may seem odd to describe so minimalist a design as Victorian. It may be doubly odd to portray as tender a building that will be encased within tough galvanized zinc. Yet it was the Victorians who recognized the eloquence of the Crystal Palace, one of Minimalism's primary sources. And Minimalism's master, Mies van der Rohe, showed the world that industrial materials can be sweet.

... Frankly, I was expecting the firm to produce a more transparent building envelope. Saana is noted for delicate, veil-like facades, and the museum has spoken of its desire to appear open to the neighboring community. So it is surprising to see that the museum's elevations use less glass than those of the Whitney. The opaque zinc-finished steel may take some getting used to.

I'm prepared to like it immediately, however. There is more than one way to be open. We don't often see metal used as a light, reflective skin. With the moiré patterns that will glimmer across its galvanized surface, I expect that the skin will be nearly as veil-like as glass. This zinc plating really is that familiar, cheap silvery gray stuff air ducts are made of, a reminder that modern architecture is a form of industrial alchemy.

The idea of openness is conveyed more emphatically by the shape of the building envelope, perhaps, than by its materials. Each of the building's seven floors is represented as a distinct rectangular box. These are stacked atop one another, in an off-axis composition, like a chest of partly open drawers. This arrangement allows variety in the size and proportions of each floor. It also creates setbacks that are used for open-air terraces and for skylights to naturally illuminate the galleries below. At night, the building's metallic exterior will be washed with artificial lighting from within.

August 15th, 2007, 07:14 PM
The zinc panels now cover a good portion of the exterior of these stacked cubes.

Along with solid panels most of the south and east facades (and a section of the north facade) are getting dressed in a metal mesh (a material which I don't believe was apparent in any of the previous info about this project) ...

east / north facades ...



west / south facades ...






August 15th, 2007, 07:23 PM
There are a succession of connected posts in the "New Developments on the Bowery" thread specifically regarding this Museum project ...

They start HERE (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=173204&postcount=131) , continue on HERE (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=173206&postcount=132) through HERE (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=173229&postcount=136) .

Can they be copied or moved to this thread?

August 15th, 2007, 07:53 PM
Earlier this week a crew attempted to install a long and awkward-to-control piece of the zinc facade ...

The guys on the lower hanging scaffold tried to "feed" the panel up into the channel along the north facade with the help of a gang on the 2nd hanging scaffold ...


They got very close to success ...



With the help of another guy up above, who tried to guide the panel into place via some ropes & wires ...


But the panel seemed to have a [bendy] mind of its own ...


By the time I left they had been reduced to re-adjusting the scaffolding and re-measuring the slot; not sure if they ultimately had success that day or not ...



August 16th, 2007, 11:07 AM
There are a succession of connected posts in the "New Developments on the Bowery" thread specifically regarding this Museum project ...

They start HERE (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=173204&postcount=131) , continue on HERE (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=173206&postcount=132) through HERE (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=173229&postcount=136) .

Can they be copied or moved to this thread?Copied. From now on they will be moved here. Thanks for the heads-up.

August 16th, 2007, 11:26 AM
Excellent ^^^

Muchas Gracias :D

August 19th, 2007, 11:30 AM
More metal mesh going up here ...

A workman who was installing the paneling on the facade told me that the entire building -- including the west facade facing onto The Bowery -- will be covered in the metal mesh. And that the under-layer is actually white-painted aluminum and that the mesh is aluminum as well ...

So, what happened to the ZINC facade (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=182280&postcount=51) which was previously described and promised :confused: :confused: :confused: ...






August 20th, 2007, 11:44 AM
Drove by this building yesterday for the first time. It's basically a giant, windowless metal shed dropped into the middle of a much lower scale NYC streetscape. It basically says "F__ YOU!" to everything around it. When some future generation with better taste tears down this eysore, they are going to wonder if we had all just lost our mind.

August 20th, 2007, 04:41 PM
I'm reserving judgment on this building until complete. I think the neighborhood is going to catch up to this building.

I enjoy a museum with natural light myself. I would expect them to have an incredible lighting designer - or suffer public scorn if not.

August 22nd, 2007, 01:46 PM
that silverly material looks nothing more then chain link fence fastened onto the facade. how cheap can you get, this thing looks terrible against the promises of the rendering. typical.

August 22nd, 2007, 02:10 PM
I am very ambivalent about this building.

I like what they were trying to do in the building design, and where they were trying to place this building. The compromises on materials for the former, happens, but there was a heavy price paid in so doing. Obviously it is not a heavy price in money lost, but more in an opportunity lost. That zinc-glazed mesh might have elevated this building to a level that the abstraction of form could not do. What aluminium will now do, however, is yet to be seen.

I am also anxious to find out what one really sees inside. The renderings are very stark, and the window question is frightening, based on what you can surmise.

August 22nd, 2007, 06:27 PM
I'm not sure what is meant ^^^ by the "window problem" ...

There are windows spaced around on the various facades. There are also skylights (where the stacked boxeds give a sky-facing exposure).

And even though I reported that a workman said the facade going up is aluminum rather than zinc I'm taking that info with a grain of salt ...

I'm hoping for some verification from someone in the know, but so far we've not been lucky enough to get a post here from such an insider.

August 24th, 2007, 07:45 AM
I'm not sure what is meant ^^^ by the "window problem" ...

Since you placed this in quotes and led with it, I feel compelled to correct you a smidge on what you quoted versus what was actually stated in the post. Then I will take this admittedly subtle distinction, "flesh it out" a bit more, in order to explain not only what I meant, but also why this is more important at this stage of the reveal than one might think.

My post never used the wording 'window problem.' The exact phrasing was 'window question,' and that was a deliberate choice. The difference in wording relates, on the one hand, to how one usually approaches any building of this type, but on the other hand, there is a separate reaction to the apparent uniqueness of the design where the window wall is not clearly presented in any rendering. Moreover, aside from the paucity of renderings on the windows, this is compounded by the difficulty of getting any detailed explanation of them from someplace else. What frightens me is what you must conclude based on what we have seen, subject to being addressed perhaps, when the building is finally completed.

Typically, modern-styled museums built today, aloneside those equally modern-styled, spectacular additions, must still prioritise the issue of light - both natural and artificial. Light can destroy artwork, and it can age materials used to create the art - I am not just referring to paintings. From the opposite direction, light can be used to enhance the museum, as well as the artwork itself, if it is properly handled. The window question, aka the natural light question, for a museum patron will always be in the forefront whenever a newer structure is contemplated to house their art. That is because they are well aware of the penchant of modern-style architects for bringing more light into enclosed spaces that protect their treasures, whenever and wherever possible, with the expressed justification both to brighten the internals, and to exploit certain "efficiencies".

To illustrate my point, Renzo Piano recently went to the podium inside of the Art Institute of Chicago, to respond to a then heated discussion about the fear of exposing precious art to natural light, inherent in his "flying carpet" design - a kind of mechanized sun-roof feature that would filter the sun's light through out the Art Institute's newest addition. You could tell that he had anticipated 'the ... question' because as he said, he had heard it before in other parts of the world. Interestingly enough, Piano's audience was concerned only with his roof, but Piano broadened that discussion to windows, and secondary shards of light due to reflections from man-made features on some sites, or natural features tied to the location of the building. Piano had done his homework in citing numerous examples from other architects, and then he turned to examine his own work with the signature flying carpet: where the idea came from, the experimentations at his research studios, the testing of exposed and covered materials, first site use, refinements, etc. At the end, he had succeeded implicitly, the gathered doyens of the prestigious Art Institute, even those who once doubted, exploded in applause.

Piano's presentation on natural light was more thorough than most, but not entirely new. I have heard a form of it at several different museums and museum additions for buildings designed by world-renowned architects such as Pei, Calatrava and Libeskind. While natural light in the New Museum of Contemporary Art may be handled differently yet, it is obviously a newer design, and you would think, but I don't know in this case, that this topic has already come up.

If I may be permitted, throughout this project I have seen some parallels to NMCA design, and especially as it relates to the window question. The problem is that the parallel is from a non-museum structure built at the other end of the continental divide in Seattle. In the early designs for Rem Koolhaas' Seattle Public Library, he supposedly considered a mesh-like surface on the exterior to diffuse light - but then a larger grid sufficed with the glass behind it recessed enough away to get a desired control of the light. Koolhaas then enhanced the diffusion of light with his spectacular interpretation of the shape of the building to achieve it. Who knows what ideas may or may not have been drawn from this Seattle design by the relatively unknown architects from Japan for NMCA, but I would like to see, first hand, if their solution was as clever as Koolhaas' result. As we all know, Koolhaas has also explored the stacked box well before NMCA was planned.

The ledges created by the stacking of the boxes on NMCA immediately led me to think that they may disguise some limited use of skylights there. These are not indicated in any rendering, but if they become present on the final structure, I would consider it licence to further explore the window question from that perspective.

August 24th, 2007, 09:50 AM
Thanks, Zephyr, for expanding on what I should have termed the "window question" (rather than "window problem", as I lazily & incorrectly quoted).

Perhaps, because I'm liking this building so far -- and have liked what I've seen / read about the plan, I'm cutting the design crew a break in regards to how they will solve the light issue here.

It does seem odd that the north facade appears to have fewer windows than the other exposures (if it has any there at all).

But I do appreciate it the way you make me re-think the issue (and how you do the same on your other posts).

August 27th, 2007, 09:15 AM
(Thank you lofter1 for your kind words.)

I did leave out one of the most significant alternate approaches to the natural/artificial light question, when applied to a museum. I know many are aware of it because the architect is based in NYC, a thread here touches on it, and it was one of his most notable achievements.

Specifically it is the addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City by Steven Holl.


Holl's collaboration with others that led to the KC addition idea, is nothing short of brilliant. NMCA could not be expected to reflect every idea that comes down the pike. But the use of passive light in the way that Holl does it here, that in effect brings natural light from the day into the night, could be reworked into museums with a willingness to consider it, even when budgets are tight. The concept is based on a technology that projects out to be quite cost effective and should be part of the arsenal of all architects working on these questions of what to do if they don't let me do this or that.

(One of these days we will need to create a separate thread on just this topic of light effects given to-day's technological options.)

August 27th, 2007, 02:18 PM
The form of this building is so right... a shame about the mesh. If they could not use zinc, how about raw steel panels left to rust? The mesh looks banal.

August 27th, 2007, 05:00 PM
From CURBED (http://curbed.com/archives/2007/08/27/new_new_museum_getting_all_meshy_on_the_bowery.php ) today ...

New New Museum Getting All Mesh-y on The Bowery

Monday, August 27, 2007
by ROK88


A few weeks ago we gave a little peak (http://www.curbed.com/archives/2007/07/27/curbedwire_newmuseum_opening_in_november_printing_ house_maple_syrup_mystery_trump_place_hikes_rents. php) of something going up on the facade
of the New New Museum rising on The Bowery. And now almost the entire
building is covered in what turns out to be a metallic mesh. Workmen on site
at the New Museum claim that the facade all around is actually aluminum,
which doesn't match up with what was promised here. From an interview (http://www.newmuseum.org/docs/conversation_with_sanaa.pdf) with
the architects at SANAA posted on the New Museum website (http://www.newmuseum.org/):

SANAA: The exterior cladding will be galvanized zinc-plated
steel, a material that is extremely strong, yet light. The
character of it is a bit rough, just like the Bowery. It's textural in
appearance, yet actually smooth to the touch and it is
reflective in a way that abstracts its surroundings and suggests
a different way of seeing them.
Doesn't look too smooth to us. Was it budget cuts or that old bugaboo
"artistic differences" which lead to the mesh-y-ness? Anybody in the know,
please drop us a line.

The New Museum looking west towards Prince Street.

When the afternoon sun hits the west-facing facade it seems like spotlights
have been turned on full. Good thing that Prince Street runs one-way in the
opposite direction.

Close-up view of the newly-installed facade.

The crew puts up another mesh-y panel above The Bowery.


The bright and shiny New Museum seen from a block north up The Bowery.

A sneak peak of the glass-enclosed street level lobby of SANAA's New Museum.

· CurbedWire: NewMuseum Opening in November (http://www.curbed.com/archives/2007/07/27/curbedwire_newmuseum_opening_in_november_printing_ house_maple_syrup_mystery_trump_place_hikes_rents. php) [Curbed]
· A Conversation with Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (http://www.newmuseum.org/docs/conversation_with_sanaa.pdf) [newmuseum.org]
· New Museum website (http://www.newmuseum.org/) [newmuseum.org]


It is essentially a giant form of expanded metal mesh that is coated with a
white paint. Like http://www.mcnichols.com/products/expanded/standard (http://www.mcnichols.com/products/expanded/standard)
It isn't the first time that it has been used. There are a few parking garages
around the city that use this material for cladding.

By DjUoh (http://www.cbaz.com/) at August 27, 2007 1:20 PM (http://curbed.com/archives/2007/08/27/new_new_museum_getting_all_meshy_on_the_bowery.php #488780)


The zinc plated steel is gone and its not under the mesh. I believe it had to
do with two main issues ; cost and pollution.

By bklyn


i walked by there this morning. the angle of the openings creates a direct
and unobstructed view (when seen from the sidewalk next to the building)
of the clips that attach the mesh panles to the wall behind them. it does
not look great, and it feels like an ooops we didn't think of that moment.
that being said, i would wait to see what the building looks like once all the
panles are in place.

By Anonymous


The cladding, sub panels and decorative mesh, is all anodized aluminum.
The expanded mesh is like the off-the-shelf material that DjUoh linked to,
but is much larger than what is typically mass-produced these days.
SANAA found a fabricator in England to do the mesh to their size
specifications as a custom job (though their size
specifications were nearly identical to a product that
the UK company had produced as road-reinforcing material
in the mid-20th century) and that material was turned into panels
by a Minessota firm called MG McGrath. I'm not certain about
the change to aluminum from zinc-plated steel, though I'm
sure that bklyn has the right idea: it was too expensive.

By intheknow


I was actually the metal procurement officer at my office and I think they
did a superb job selecting this mesh. I used a similiar mesh to put in the
front grill of my yugo back home and it actually looks quite beautiful.

By Milenko


have an apartment on Stanton Street around the corner, so I've been
watching this building pretty closely. I think I like the "cheaper" off-the-shelf
quality of the mesh. It reminds me of the way Dutch architects have been
using inexpensive materials prominently where one might expect something
more polished. It's, perhaps, an appropriate design statement for a museum
that is about the very new, therefore provisional. But we'll see how it shakes
out once the whole thing is finished.

By Brian Rose (http://www.brianrose.com/)

September 16th, 2007, 05:33 PM
The sidewalk shed here has come down http://wirednewyork.com/forum/images/icons/icon14.gif ...







September 16th, 2007, 05:56 PM
After completing my recent tasks in NYC, I decided to head back to Chicago and then onto Toronto next week, via motor car.

On my itinerary were two art musuems with fabulous additions - Akron Art Museum by the Coop hummelblau architectural firm, and the Toledo Museum of Art.

left - the Akron addition; right - the Glass Pavillion of Toledo Museum of Art

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/07/13/arts/14.coop.span.jpg http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/08/28/arts/Glass1600.jpg

The Glass Pavillion addition to the Toledo Museum of Art was the first American work by the architects that designed the New Museum of Contemporary Art. And after nearly causing an accident in Toledo as I tried to find this Toledo precursor, which was across the street from the older building, I was stunned at how beautifully elegant this glassy building was in the darkness of night. (I had not known that Frank Gehry had also designed a building for the University of Toledo that is connected to the Toledo Museum of Art, and that it was also within walking distance of the Pavillion.)

Now I could understand why these architects were selected. Not because of the similarity of the structures - there was little of that - but rather for the bold yet simple designs that they explored in their structures. More on this in later posts.

September 16th, 2007, 05:57 PM
How does the cladding look in person?

September 16th, 2007, 06:14 PM
How does the cladding look in person?

From a distance it looks like seamless plexiglass. Up close it is clearly thick, frameless glass, that has been shaped on the corners, all of which are rounded. Behind the exterior glass is a second series of glass that outlines each room and is also part of the ventilation.

September 16th, 2007, 06:17 PM
I meant the New Museum's mesh metal cladding, but what you're describing sounds very interesting!

September 17th, 2007, 09:18 PM
I think it's looking alright, but the edges need somme trimming.


September 17th, 2007, 11:13 PM
It really changes with the sun and clouds and time of day ...

They're getting ready to pour the sidewalk in front of the building.

But this afternoon there was some problem with the way the way things were lining up at the base.

Looked like the big glass entry doors installed last week wouldn't clear where the top of the concrete will hit.

LOTS of architect types with pencils were milling about & looking VERY concerned.

I really like taking pictures of this building.

Today at mid-afternoon it was blazing down the Bowery ...


When the sun hits the aluminum at the right angle it's nearly blinding ...


And then a cloud passes overhead and it goes all nice and soft ...





Reflected in the window of a kitchen supply store across The Bowery ...



September 17th, 2007, 11:17 PM
Later on -- and from higher up ...





September 18th, 2007, 02:27 AM
^ great shots. I think it looks quite cool. I need to see it for my self.

September 18th, 2007, 12:15 PM
On my itinerary were two art musuems with fabulous additions - Akron Art Museum by the Coop hummelblau architectural firm...


The Akron addition looks like the building that houses the Capital Grille restaurant on 42nd Street and about 1000 other really bad, pointy glass buildings put out there in recent years (with a touch of Mayne thrown in for bad measure). Recently Libeskind has become a popular conveyor of this crap. To me, the humble red brick building (see on the left edge of the shot) to which this new wing attaches is a fine reflection of Midwestern values. The addition stands as a completely betrayal of them. As for the new Bowery museum, it is remniscent mostly of the Times Square Marriott Marquis, albeit without the saving neon. It really makes you miss the flop houses.

September 18th, 2007, 02:33 PM
The Akron addition looks like the building that houses the Capital Grille restaurant on 42nd Street and about 1000 other really bad, pointy glass buildings put out there in recent years (with a touch of Mayne thrown in for bad measure). Recently Libeskind has become a popular conveyor of this crap. To me, the humble red brick building (see on the left edge of the shot) to which this new wing attaches is a fine reflection of Midwestern values. The addition stands as a completely betrayal of them. As for the new Bowery museum, it is remniscent mostly of the Times Square Marriott Marquis, albeit without the saving neon. It really makes you miss the flop houses.

You were saving up for this one I presume. But there is not an ounce of mendacity in your words, so I don't have a problem with what you posted.

The NYT, while fascinated with the exterior of this addition, was quite negative about the corresponding interior areas. So taken together, your views on the outside, their views of the inside, there is much to despise about it, if you so choose.

I only had two problems with it.

The top of the new addition overhung the original building in a very ominous way, just like Rem Koolhaas attempted to do with his Illinois Institute of Technology Student Union building with a nearby Mies structure. IIT made it clear that this would not be viewed positively after Koolhaas won the initial competition, and he eventually toned it done in his final version, with a crane-like extention from the new structure to the old as the only remnant of his past design.

A second problem area I have is with the lack of context that is amplified by proximity. This could have been handled better by gaining some distance between the two structures, and this would have aided with the first problem as well, but the lot owned, made that all but impossible from what I was told in the brief time I was there.

Having been open only a few months now, it is still enjoying abundant attendance from the surrounding area, and I suspect it will be a fixture for anyone visiting this area and viewing the sites, for years to come.

As for the "Bowery Museum" it will not have a contextual problem with the rest of itself, because there is no addition, and it seems to be delightfully "out there" in this area, in an inviting, playful way, that I think works.

I suspect if it were anywhere else but some place like the Bowery, the opposition would have been swift and hard. Over time I think it will be cherished by the city and will spur other types of experimentation with form in its wake.

October 11th, 2007, 11:46 PM
I like this building. More pics:


October 12th, 2007, 11:39 AM
I like this building. More pics:

Curious, how these particular pictures make NMCA appear more conventional than others I've seen to-date.

October 12th, 2007, 06:25 PM
The Akron art addition: cliché upon cliché upon cliché.


The New Museum... yes, want to know... does it really look that good?

smart, sophisticated:



October 12th, 2007, 07:14 PM
Wow that's very handsome. I have to go downtown and have a look. :)

November 11th, 2007, 11:18 PM
http://img161.imageshack.us/img161/7282/newmuseum01ccq2.th.jpg (http://img161.imageshack.us/my.php?image=newmuseum01ccq2.jpg) http://img161.imageshack.us/img161/2863/newmuseum02cdr4.th.jpg (http://img161.imageshack.us/my.php?image=newmuseum02cdr4.jpg) http://img161.imageshack.us/img161/7708/newmuseum03ctz0.th.jpg (http://img161.imageshack.us/my.php?image=newmuseum03ctz0.jpg)

November 12th, 2007, 07:20 AM
^ The game is Stacked Boxes; and this one gets all its older neighbors to join the game.

(That is an instance of true contextualism.)

December 1st, 2007, 03:41 PM
The New Museum (http://www.newmuseum.org/) is now open (http://curbed.com/archives/2007/11/29/curbed_inside_hell_yes_new_museum_revealed.php). The building is terrific -- and close to home, so that makes me like it all the more :cool: .

Most of the critics love it (http://curbed.com/archives/2007/11/30/ouroussoff_on_the_new_museum_hell_yes.php) (but, of course, some hate it (http://curbed.com/archives/2007/11/30/hell_no.php)).

The opening exhibit -- "Unmonumental (http://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/3)" -- is chock-a-block full of witty and humorous works. I chuckled my way through many of the galleries. And the view from the terraces on the 7th Floor are fantastic.

From my rooftop ...


And from the inside ... the lobby:


They said no photos in the galleries [ :cool: ] so I was somewhat limited in my picture taking.

The fire stair going up:


And looking down:


For those who think the NY Times Tower is prison-like, I'd advise you to steer clear of this one:




December 1st, 2007, 03:51 PM
One of my favorite pieces is found in the 2nd Floor gallery (someone else took the photo and emailed it to me -- honest :cool: ). It's a swooping stack of chairs, connected with gravity, dowels and glue: Marc André Robinson's Myth Monolith, 2007:


The store sells stuff by John Waters ...


The basement men's room is already famous:


As is Ouroussoff's orgiastic staircase, both when you're working your way up:


Or going down:


Brooklyn looks good from up top:


And it's a good place to spy on the tai-chi-er next door:


I like it. I'll go back.



December 1st, 2007, 06:24 PM
The bathroom looks terrific.

(so does the rest)

December 1st, 2007, 06:29 PM
This is New York's newest tourist attraction. Michelin will give it one star.

December 1st, 2007, 07:30 PM
I had every intention of going today but I got too pooped running errands.

December 2nd, 2007, 01:39 PM
The New Museum... yes, want to know... does it really look that good?

It looks pretty good, except that right now it has a tacky sign hanging on the exterior. Which made it suddenly apparent their intentions in putting the grill over the entire exterior. Expect to see work hanging on the exterior as well... which, will all the huge blank wall, could be a pretty cool canvas. In theory, they could esentially reskin the building for an exhibit, if they wanted, or hang large temporary buildboards for shows. Or in this case, just hang one signage piece.


I love it... this photo is from today, with the snow. Already up on Flickr.

I had every intention of going today but I got too pooped running errands.

You're aware tickets were required in advance?

I covered the opening here (sort of):

The Akron addition looks like...

Oh, and I think the Akron Museum is great. I'm a big Coop Himmelb(l)au fan and I'm glad to see them getting work here stateside.


December 3rd, 2007, 01:27 AM
I don't find it particularly attractive, but it is very tucked away and thus won't bother me.

And so New York maintains and builds the cool factor, yet we don't have to see it everywhere. Perfect!

*Edit: You know, sometimes it doesn't look half bad. Good, actually. I'm impressed.*

December 3rd, 2007, 01:44 AM
There wa hardly any line or wait at 10 PM Saturday night (when i went out for a walk).

December 3rd, 2007, 07:06 PM
You were expecting there to be at 10 at night?

December 4th, 2007, 11:27 AM
You never know in NYC ...

Big opening weekend bash -- and Free ...

Plus it seems lots of folks were complaining about the lines / wait to get in during the day.

Mainly it was just an observation.

December 5th, 2007, 12:46 PM

The set. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanshnookenraggen/sets/72157603367689759/)

February 22nd, 2008, 07:39 PM
I don't find it particularly attractive, but it is very tucked away and thus won't bother me.

And so New York maintains and builds the cool factor, yet we don't have to see it everywhere. Perfect!

*Edit: You know, sometimes it doesn't look half bad. Good, actually. I'm impressed.*

I must jettison my own comments. I am positively enamored with this building.

February 22nd, 2008, 08:05 PM
One of the things I love about Wired New York is that folks here sometimes switch their opinions -- and often aren't shy about admitting a change of heart.

February 22nd, 2008, 08:14 PM
I just looked at the photos of the completed project; and thanks for posting that Flicker photo set.

Is that Great Architecture? Hell, yes.:cool:

February 22nd, 2008, 08:29 PM
Awesome building, awesome photos. Thanks.

February 22nd, 2008, 08:52 PM
Agreed, great job. Thanks for the post.

February 24th, 2008, 02:38 PM
This part of town is sprouting small-increment taller buildings in a progressive new wave. Clearly they got the zoning right for a change.

lofter, you usually come up with the official facts; can you tell about it?

February 24th, 2008, 03:16 PM
Look at City Planning Manhattan Zoning Map 12-C (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/zone/map12c.pdf) (warning pdf!)

The Bowery has been zoned C6-1 for nearly 50 years (they recently re-zoned a small area around Houston Street where the Avalon buildings have one up). The same zoning exists all the way up Fourth & Thrid Avenues to 15th Street, and up Second Aveunue to 7th Street and the same for the entire NW corner of the Lower East Side (north of Grand to Houston and east to Essex).

All the new stuff (New Museum, Cooper Square Hotel, 52 E. 4th, etc.) have gone up without variances -- the size is allowable. It's just that for years the economics didn't make sense to build big along the Bowery. Of course now all that has changed -- but folks assume that some zoning change has been put into effect.

Here's what City Planning (http://home2.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/evles/evles2.shtml) has to say:

East Village / Lower East Side
Existing Context and Zoning

The existing zoning, which has remained in place since 1961, is R7-2 or C6-1. Both of these are height factor (http://home2.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/glossary.shtml#height_factor), or non-contextual, districts that allow residential uses at a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) (http://home2.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/glossary.shtml#floor) of 3.44, community facility uses at 6.5 FAR, and commercial uses (in the C6-1 districts) at 6.0 FAR. These districts allow the development of tall, slender buildings surrounded by open space. They do not require that buildings be built to the street line, and they place no fixed limit on building heights. (The rezoning area does not include the residential development known as Village View, located between East 2nd Street and East 6th Street, from First Avenue to Avenue A.)

February 24th, 2008, 04:01 PM
^ Mr. Johnny-on-the-Spot comes through again.

This zoning category is a keeper (and evidently a sleeper). Now if they'd plug in a provision to limit footprints (no more than two lots assemblable, for example), they'd have zoning perfection --insofar as that's achievable.

February 24th, 2008, 04:11 PM
I always wondered hypothetically, a site with a small zoning, could you legally build something like the eiffel tower, cn tower type deal with a small floor area but extremely tall?

February 24th, 2008, 04:20 PM
^ If there's no height limit explicitly stated in feet.

February 24th, 2008, 11:25 PM
This zoning category is a keeper (and evidently a sleeper). Now if they'd plug in a provision to limit footprints (no more than two lots assemblable, for example), they'd have zoning perfection --insofar as that's achievable.Not so fast. You left out the need to amend the part where it says "they do not require that buildings be built to the street line."

February 24th, 2008, 11:37 PM
^Yeah, the one Scarano building going up is a nice design, but it has a driveway. That is not good urban planning.

September 9th, 2008, 11:05 AM
Bowery Gentrification Watch:
New Museum Spreading


CURBED (http://curbed.com/archives/2008/09/09/bowery_gentrification_watch_new_museum_spreading.p hp)
by Joey
September 9, 2008

For all the glitz, glamour, starchitecture and HELL YESITUDE the New Museum
has brought to the Bowery 2.0, its direct neighbors are still evocative of the Bowery
of old. On the north side of the building, practically touching the museum's metallic mesh,
is the notorious flophouse the Sunshine Hotel. To the south, one of those slightly run-down
multi-story affairs that has been a restaurant supply company for who knows how long.
But no stone on the Bowery will be left unturned by those with a dash of class,
and so while the Sunshine is locked up in litigation (http://curbed.com/archives/2008/07/21/bowery_will_have_sunshine_for_a_little_while_longe r.php) until it can be leveled, the
New Museum has swooped in on its other buddy. The Times reports the museum
purchased 231 Bowery for $16.6 million, the culmination of six months of negotiations
and a move perhaps necessary to protect the view from its rockin' Sky Room (http://www.newmuseum.org/about/space_rental/)
event space. The museum will install a new ground-floor tenant and use the
other floors for offices and storage in the short term. Eventually, the building
could be run as a separate institution, or used for expanded museum programming.
Or maybe razed for a luxury hotel? The Bowery could use more of those.

· New Museum Buys Adjacent Building (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/09/arts/design/09museum.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss) [NYT]
· Curbed's New Museum coverage (http://curbed.com/tags/new-museum) [Curbed]


The newly-acquired building sits on a large lot: ~ 50' x 175'

New Museum Buys Adjacent Building

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/09/arts/design/09museum.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin)
September 9, 2008

Not even a year after it opened a new $50 million home on the Bowery, the New Museum of Contemporary Art has acquired an adjacent building for $16.6 million, museum executives said Monday. Just south of the museum at 231 Bowery, the building is a 47,000-square-foot, five-story structure now used by a restaurant-supply company.

Lisa Phillips, the museum’s director, said the institution would run the building “as is” for the time being, with a new ground-floor tenant. The museum, at 235 Bowery, will also use some of the vacant space for additional offices and storage “till we develop a long-range plan,” she said, adding, “There is so much possibility for institutional growth.”

The museum’s ideas for the space include using it for expanded programming or revenue-generating activities and running it as a separate but complementary adjunct, Ms. Phillips said.

The museum, which had been working on the deal for the last six months, paid for the new space with money raised and contributed by the board and some outside financing, she said.

The purchase seems likely to speed the transformation of the area surrounding the New Museum. Since it moved there from SoHo, opening last December in a building designed by the Tokyo firm Sanaa, galleries and restaurants have been popping up on a strip that was long known for flophouses, bars and stores that sell light fixtures and restaurant equipment.

Founded in 1977, the institution bills itself as Manhattan’s only museum dedicated to contemporary art. Coming shows include “A. L. Steiner + robbinschilds,” a series of site-specific performances, multichannel video installations and video projections; and “Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone,” described as the first solo exhibition and retrospective of Ms. Heilmann’s paintings, sculptures and furniture in a New York museum.

Assessing the museum’s design by Sanaa’s founders, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, Nicolai Ouroussoff wrote in The New York Times in January 2006: “Wrapped in a woven aluminum mesh skin, the stacked forms give the composition a mysterious quality, suggesting a culture in constant flux.”

Ms. Phillips said she hoped the museum would continue to be a part of the neighborhood’s evolution. “It’s an opportunity,” she said. “It’s an investment in our future growth. We’re a dynamic, growing institution.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

September 14th, 2008, 11:47 AM
word is the south building was purchased in a partnership between the new museum, everybody's favorite icelandic pixie bjork & her boyfriend artist matthew barney.

this so barney could have a big say in picking new museum artists and also to help cement his own artworld legacy.

you didn't think the new museum had any more spare $$$ to throw around on it's own, did you? i guess they found a patron buyer :D

September 14th, 2008, 12:11 PM
Perhaps they are the "outside financing" mentioned in the Times' article:

The museum, which had been working on the deal for the last six months, paid for the new space with money raised and contributed by the board and some outside financing ...

April 23rd, 2009, 11:12 PM
Went up to the "sky room" at the museum, and it was pretty cool up there :D, not to mention that the museum itself was great...


November 10th, 2009, 10:27 PM
Trustee’s Art on His Museum’s Walls Raises Flag

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/arts/design/11museum.html?ref=design)
November 11, 2009

One day in the mid-1980s, Dakis Joannou, a Greek Cypriot industrialist, was exploring the art galleries of the East Village in Manhattan when he came upon a basketball suspended in a tank of liquid. Captivated, he invested $2,700 in “One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank” by a little-known artist named Jeff Koons. It was, he said, as if a whole new world had opened up to him.

Twenty-five years — and 40 Koonses — later, Mr. Joannou is considered one of the most important contemporary art collectors in the world. And the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan is preparing to showcase his vast collection in a three-story exhibition, with Mr. Koons, now an art superstar, as the guest curator.

The show, slated to open in March, is generating anticipatory chatter in the art world. But it is also leading to buzz of a different kind, about the propriety of turning over a public museum to a private collector who also happens to be a museum trustee and a chief patron of the curator.

Private collection shows appeal to many art museums because they can display great works that are otherwise inaccessible. Over the last decade, though, as prices rose in the art market, the museum industry came to believe that such shows required extra vigilance about potential conflicts of interest. In this case, critics say the New Museum, which in its 32-year history has evolved from a scrappy alternative space into a mainstream institution, is jeopardizing its integrity by giving too much power to a board member with a vested interest in the artists he collects.

“Maybe it is a fantastic collection, but the museum is a public trust: nonprofit, tax exempt and government supported,” said Noah Kupferman, a former specialist at Sotheby’s who teaches a course called Fine Art as a Financial Asset at New York University. “It is supposed to be an independent arbiter of taste and art-historical value. It is not supposed to surrender itself to a trustee and donor whose collection stands to be enhanced in value by a major museum show.”

As the New Museum sees it, exhibiting Mr. Joannou’s collection, which has never been shown in the United States, is a gift to the public, providing a creative model for public-private partnerships in difficult economic times.

“We think the public will be the beneficiaries of Dakis’s very generous agreement to allow works from his foundation to cross the ocean,” said Lisa Phillips, the New Museum’s director, referring to Mr. Joannou’s Deste Foundation Center for Contemporary Art in Athens.

“I understand why some people might consider it a perceived conflict,” she continued. “But we’re confident that the initiative is artistically and intellectually important and ethically legitimate, consistent with our mission and our vision.”

Mr. Joannou dismissed concerns. Speaking by phone from his home in Athens, he said: “Sure, I am a trustee. Would it be different if I weren’t? Some people may think some things. For me, it’s a nonissue. I know who I am and what I am doing.”

Museums have always depended on collectors for loans and donations, and some have a long history of exhibiting private collections. But a decade ago, “Sensation: Young British Artists From the Saatchi Collection” at the Brooklyn Museum prompted an ethical debate.

“Sensation” is best remembered as a battle from the culture wars, in which Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani denounced as “sick stuff” artwork like Chris Ofili’s “Holy Virgin Mary” with its appended elephant dung. But because the collection’s owner, the advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, was an active trader in the contemporary art market, “Sensation” also heightened concerns about museums renting out their reputations, being manipulated by collectors or “acting more like commercial galleries,” said Erik Ledbetter, director of international programs and ethics at the American Association of Museums.

This prompted the association, which accredits but does not regulate museums, to issue guidelines for exhibiting borrowed objects, stressing “transparency, intellectual integrity and institutional control,” Mr. Ledbetter said. While the New Museum is not accredited by the association, all museums are considered to be bound by its standards.

The guidelines stress the potential for conflicts if board members become lenders, Mr. Ledbetter said. He offered these “cautionary flags”: a show devoted to one collector; a show in which the collector is a board member, donor or underwriter; a show in which the museum gives away or pools curatorial judgment with the collector.

“Any one of those things can be managed,” he said, “but when you layer them on top of each other, it’s more complicated.”

The New Museum show raises all the association’s cautionary flags except one: Mr. Joannou is not underwriting the exhibition.

In a phone interview that she limited to 20 minutes, Ms. Phillips expressed exasperation that the museum was being challenged. Several art world blogs, especially Tyler Green’s well-read Modern Art Notes, have been critical.

“We’re not the first to do an exhibition of a private collection, and we won’t be the last,” she said.

There are abundant recent examples of private collection shows at American museums, but none that involve both a trustee and a guest curator close to the trustee.

This year alone, the Brooklyn Museum, which was showing private collections decades before “Sensation,” gave over a gallery — and curatorial control — to works by Hernan Bas, a young Miami artist, from the Rubell Family Collection. (The Rubells are not affiliated with the museum). The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited Old Master drawings from the collection of its trustee Jean Bonna, although it organized the show itself.

And the National Gallery of Art, using its own curator, is now showing modern art from the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection; in this case, all the works have been donated or promised to the museum.

That is what many institutions, like the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of Art, require to deal with potential conflict: a gift. “The minute you enter into a relationship with a private collection, you have to make sure that it’s in ink that the stuff is coming to you,” said Maxwell Anderson, director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The New Museum does not maintain a permanent collection, and is therefore not positioned to receive gifts.

Some museums ask the lender to sign an agreement promising a moratorium on sales so that art is not whisked straight from museum walls to an auction block. Ms. Phillips said Mr. Joannou “is aware that the museum has a policy of not exhibiting work from a trustee if they are intending to sell.” Further, she said, Mr. Joannou buys much more than he sells.

The selection of Mr. Koons as curator, Ms. Phillips said, was “the resounding choice” of the museum’s curators, partly because he has been “engaged in conversation and debate with Dakis” for the last 25 years.

Mr. Joannou’s rise as a collector paralleled Mr. Koons’s as an artist. Mr. Joannou became not only Mr. Koons’s patron, acquiring such trophy works as a giant balloon dog and a stainless steel train filled with bourbon, but also his close friend. Mr. Joannou, 69, served as best man at Mr. Koons’s first wedding and is godfather to his son. Mr. Koons, 54, designed Mr. Joannou’s yacht, “Guilty,” and made a giant wedding cake out of plastic foam for his daughter.

“I am extremely, extremely curious to see how Jeff will deal with the work of his peers — and of his own,” Mr. Joannou said of the coming exhibition.

Dan Cameron, a former New Museum curator who is now artistic director of the Prospect New Orleans art biennial, said the choice of Mr. Koons made him uncomfortable. “I am a big fan of Jeff’s,” he said, “but he is not a fair or impartial or even interesting interpreter of what Dakis does.”

An assistant to Mr. Koons said he was too busy to talk to a reporter.

Mr. Joannou, the chairman of an international construction firm, has more than 1,000 pieces in his collection with concentrations of works by Mr. Ofili, Maurizio Cattelan, Urs Fischer, Robert Gober, Kiki Smith and others. His collection, periodically exhibited at his Athens foundation, has been shown in Paris and Vienna.

In discussing the New Museum show, several museum leaders cautioned against what Thomas Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, described as “overly puritanical” judgments about “the delicate dance” between museums and collectors.

“The Met wouldn’t be the Met — the Met wouldn’t have the collections it has — if it hadn’t been for private collectors,” he said.

And several figures in the art world defended, and applauded, the New Museum for its Joannou show. Amy Cappellazzo, the international co-head for postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s, called Mr. Joannou a “collector of record and a tastemaker” with a “fantastic collection that will bring back to New York a lot of things that haven’t been seen here in decades.”

Richard Armstrong, the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, agreed. “I think it’s useful for the entire food chain of the contemporary art world that private collections go on view — and if they become more valuable in the process, that doesn’t hurt anyone.” Art business experts expressed no doubt that a museum show enhances the art’s value —regardless of whether it is taken right to market. “Showing at a museum gives credence to the works a collector has assembled and does add value to the asset,” said John Arena, senior vice president in custom credit at U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management.

Contemporary art, in particular, can benefit from a museum’s stamp of approval. “When contemporary art comes into a collection, it is still wet,” said Mr. Kupferman of N.Y.U., who also works in the financial sector. “It has not withstood the test of time. In financial terms, an Old Master is kind of like a utility stock. Contemporary art is like a dot-com. It can lose its value — poof.”

Marcia Tucker, a former curator at the Whitney, founded the New Museum in 1977 as a laboratory for emerging and under-recognized artists. Ms. Phillips took the reins in 1999, and over the last decade, the museum, whose succinct mission is “new art, new ideas,” has grown considerably in ambition, profile and attendance.

Two years ago, Ms. Phillips oversaw the museum’s move into its new $48 million home on the Bowery at Prince Street, where each nook and cranny has a sponsor (the Ruth E. Horowitz stairs, the Jerome L. and Ellen Stern restrooms), as does Ms. Phillips herself (the Toby Devan Lewis director).

Mr. Cameron said he believed the new building signaled a “dramatically different direction,” more mainstream and aligned with the art market. Its exhibition schedule increasingly features artists who are already established on the contemporary art scene, and the museum’s critics consider it to be overly enmeshed in what can seem like a dizzyingly insular circle of art world insiders.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

March 9th, 2010, 06:25 AM
Hell? Yes.

Fred Bernstein

The New Museum and the offending art work. (photo: dominiqueb/flickr)

I’ve never loved the New Museum Building, in part because I know what SANAA is capable of achieving. The Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, which was completed in 2006 (preceding the New Museum by about a year), is a truly original building, technologically inventive and formally stirring. A one-story structure, it soars–far higher than the New Museum’s teetering tower ever will. And yet I appreciate the New Museum for what it is: an ethereal, sculptural presence, a kind of apparition. It never looks better than it does at night, glowing, hovering, seemingly unconnected to the city grittiness around it. Its facade is gauzy, gossamer, “less like a wall than a scrim,” as Paul Goldberger wrote in the New Yorker. Which is why the decision to place a heavy, kitschy artwork on the façade is so infuriating. When the museum opened in 2007, the artwork–a rainbow hued sign that declares Hell, Yes!–was described as a temporary adornment.

Now, according to the museum’s communications director, Gabriel Einsohn, it is a “semi permanent” installation; the museum has no plans to remove it.

The piece is by Ugo Rondinone, whose, work, according to the New Museum website, “explores notions of emotional and psychic profundity found in the most banal elements of everyday life.” Perhaps. But the quality of the artwork, which resembles a Hello, Kitty logo, is beyond my ken. I do know something about architecture. And the Rondinone piece directly undermines SANAA’s objective: The architects chose to make the thickness, the weight, even the precise location of the building envelope ambiguous.

Hanging a heavy object from that envelope changes everything, for the worse; imagine wearing a campaign button on a wedding veil.

Museums are too often willing to demean their architectural treasures.

(How many times has the Whitney proposed working its Marcel Breuer building–to which the New Museum , incidentally, owes a great debt–into some larger composition?)

Frank Gehry’s IAC building is in the same boat as the New Museum. After the West Chelsea structure was complete–and after the architectural photographers had shot it as Gehry designed it–the company added two neon signs, on the north and south facades, that say IAC. As at the New Museum, they take semi-transparent, ambiguous surfaces and render them static and heavy, like turning the lights up when a magician is trying to perform a trick. But at least you can understand why IAC, which is a commercial enterprise, would want its building to say IAC. There, the signs represent a rational, if regrettable, decision.

The New Museum has no excuse. It should have said, “Hell, No!,” instead of ‘Hello, kitschy.”


March 9th, 2010, 10:29 AM
I definitely agree. I've always thought the building would be better without it.

March 9th, 2010, 10:46 AM
The sign is hokey, while the building isn't. I do think, however, that the time will come when someone goes through that glass railing, or collapses from vertigo.

March 10th, 2010, 05:37 AM



March 28th, 2010, 09:00 PM

March 29, 2010
Japanese Team Wins Pritzker Architecture Prize

By ROBIN POGREBIN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/robin_pogrebin/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, partners in the Japanese architectural firm Sanaa, have won the 2010 Pritzker (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/p/pritzker_prize/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) Architecture Prize, the profession’s highest honor.

“They explore like few others the phenomenal properties of continuous space, lightness, transparency and materiality to create a subtle synthesis,” the jury citation said. “Sejima and Nishizawa’s architecture stands in direct contrast with the bombastic and rhetorical. Instead, they seek the essential qualities of architecture that result in a much appreciated straightforwardness, economy of means and restraint in their work.”

The pair’s buildings include the acclaimed New Museum in New York, a sculptural stack of rectilinear boxes on the Bowery, which was completed in 2007. The first Sanaa project in the United States was a glass pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art, completed in 2006. It holds the museum’s collection of glass artworks, reflecting that city’s history as a major center of glass production.

In The New York Times, the critic Nicolai Ouroussoff said that the pavilion — which featured an elegant maze of curved glass walls — “can reawaken” the “belief in the power of glass to enchant.”

The jury citation highlighted those projects as well as two in Japan: the O-Museum in Nagano and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa. The pair formed their firm in 1995.

“I have been exploring how I can make architecture that feels open,” Ms. Sejima said in a prepared statement after winning the prize, “which I feel is important for a new generation of architecture.”

Mr. Nishizawa said: “Every time I finish a building I revel in possibilities and at the same time reflect on what has happened. Each project becomes my motivation for the next new project. In the same way this wonderful prize has given me a dynamic energy that I have never felt before.”

Although their work has been concentrated in Japan, Mr. Nishizawa and Ms. Sejima have designed projects in Germany, Britain, Spain, France, the Netherlands and the United States. Among their most recent projects is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne.

The firm’s first British project was the Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London, the ninth such commission in the Serpentine’s pavilions series. In Lens, in northern France, the firm is designing a 300,000-square-foot branch of the Louvre (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/l/louvre/index.html?inline=nyt-org).

This is the third time in the prize’s history that two architects have been awarded the Pritzker. The first was in 1988 with Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil and Gordon Bunshaft; the second in 2001, with the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/jacques_herzog/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Pierre de Meuron.
The award ceremony will be on May 17 on Ellis Island in New York.