Studio International

Published 10/06/2004

MoMA reborn

The disappearance of the 'old' Museum of Modern Art has left old modernists in old New York gasping. But, to quote Michael Winner (in those irritating car insurance ads) - 'calm down'. The remodelling is more; it is totally new as a museum. The exterior of the ED Stone modernist building from 1939 has been mercifully preserved, including the 1960s Philip Johnson dark steel elevations, more retro than retro. That could well have been removed - but not with nonagenarian Philip Johnson just around the corner. Architect Yoshio Taniguchi has pulled off a great coup de grĂ¢ce, but would he not like to have sliced off the butch elevation in black? West 54th Street now offers a significantly larger sculpture garden. Overall, both inside and out, it is the sublime materiality of the spaces reminding us that here we have the vindication of all modernism once aspired to. The 1960s look quaintly historicist while Taniguchi is around.

MoMA Manhatten is due to reopen in November 2004.