The Storefront for Art and Architecture is hosting a competition that asks people to design new places by subtracting, erasing, or destroying what’s already there.
Nothing still stands of the former American Folk Art Museum in New York City, a gem of a building designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. It was razed in 2014 by the Museum of Modern Art, its neighbor, which is forever expanding on W. 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The building’s destruction led to a great deal of wailing in the architectural community, in part because MoMA, a museum charged with enhancing the public’s understanding of architecture, was the party responsible for its destruction, and also because the architects designing MoMA’s expansion, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, did not stick up for their colleagues’ work.
Around the time that the news of this demolition was first unfolding, in 2013, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, a contemporary art and architecture institution in SoHo, was hosting an unusual competition—a ”Competition of Competitions”, as they called it, geared at rewiring the architect–client relationship. And the competition that won that competition is now open for entries.
“Taking Buildings Down” stems from the heated debate over the now-sealed fate of the Tod Williams Billie Tsien building. It’s a competition that asks entrants to name a building, structure, or infrastructural project that ought to be destroyed—as a creative action. Anyone can enter the contest (not just architects); according to Eva Franch i Gilabert, director for the Storefront, the organization has received more than 120 submissions since the contest opened on January 12.
“While to build is often perceived as an Apollonian pursuit, to destroy appears to be its Dionysian counterpart,” reads the call for entries. “Understanding that our built environment is the product of many forces, it can dialectically be reduced to the tensions between creation and destruction, addition and subtraction, and erection and demolition.”