Christopher Hawthorne: "DS+R ought to resign from the project"

And so, it must be said, are the architects of DS+R. Imagine what it would have meant if they had announced Wednesday that – having failed to come up with a workable way to save the Folk Art building – they were resigning from the project, leaving MoMA to find another firm to take on the task of smoothing over the hole left by the destruction of the Folk Art building.

Elizabeth Diller speaks at the New York Society for Ethical Culture
Elizabeth Diller speaks at the New York Society for Ethical Culture © Fran Parente

Of course the museum could have found a talented replacement. Architects -- by temperament as much as profession -- seem always to feel that they can redeem a commission, no matter how dubious or ethically fraught.

But cutting ties would have made a powerful statement that architects can be more than the handmaidens of an ethos that says growth is always good -- is a kind of oxygen, necessary for survival -- for museums as well as for corporations.

Elizabeth Diller and her partners are likely betting that eventually, if this expansion is built, the controversy will fade and they’ll be better known for remaking MoMA, a plum commission, than for aiding the demolition of an important building designed by two of their close colleagues.

Maybe they’ll turn out to be right. But it’s an awfully cynical wager for any architect to make.