Though the evening was billed as “A Conversation on the Museum of Modern Art’s Plan for Expansion,” it was largely a chance for MoMA to explain its thinking. Lowry kicked off the evening by asserting that MoMA needs to expand; that it can’t expand anywhere else (“we’re a midtown museum”); and that it must expand by creating continuous floor plates with a tower slated to rise next door designed by Jean Nouvel and built by Hines—floor plates which would be interrupted if the Folk Art building were allowed to stand. He was joined by MoMA curator Ann Temkin who described the imperative to house “ever-expanding art.”

MoMA's forthcoming "art bay."
MoMA's forthcoming "art bay." © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Holding the floor longest was Elizabeth Diller, whose firm is responsible for the master plan that calls for the destruction of the Folk Art building. Diller made the case that to connect the east and west portions of MoMA’s expanded campus—while creating a circulation loop that would allow visitors to flow efficiently through the Nouvel tower—would require altering so much of the Folk Art building that it would be better to sacrifice the structure altogether. At times, she seemed to blame Williams’ and Tsien’s architecture. “It’s a damn shame that the building is so obdurate,” she said, adding, “I hate to be the logical person here.”