MAD (Re)cap

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Hélène Binet

Few buildings have sparked as much architectural criticism as Two Columbus Circle, the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). Brad Cloepfil’s firm Allied Works has designed the new museum, set within the bones of Edward Durrell Stone’s old building. Critical reaction has been split, though the MAD haters seem to outnumber the fans. In the haters column: Nicolai Ouroussoff, who called the building “poorly detailed and lacking in confidence”; the now shuttered (sorry neocons) New York Sun’s James Gardner, who called it “emphatically not good”; and Christopher Hawthorne of the Los Angeles Times, who deemed it “schoolmarmish.” Ouch. Among the fans and apologists: The New Yorker‘s Paul Goldberger acknowledged Cloepfil’s difficulty in dealing with Stone, when he wrote, “rarely has an architect been pulled so completely in opposite directions,” but he added that the interior is “functional, logical, and pleasant to be in”; Blair Kamin, in the Chicago Tribune, offered mild praise when he wrote that the building, “while no masterpiece, turns out to be a better example of architectural recycling than its critics predicted”; the project’s strongest defense came from the keyboard of Bloomberg’s James Russell, who called the museum a “work of subtlety and substance.”

In a second piece, Ouroussoff called for the building’s demolition, prompting blogger CultureGrrl at artsjournal to write, “it’s time to demolish Ouroussoff.”

The woman arguably at the center of the debate (and the debate about the debate), Ada Louise Huxtable, is notably silent to date. Will she take up the subject once again?

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