Curbed SF called me sour!" /> Curbed SF called me sour!" />

Alexandra Lange

Doing Addition

Oooh! Curbed SF called me sour! I tweeted yesterday on the rumored short list for the San Francisco MoMA expansion competition, which the LA Times’s Christopher Hawthorne and the New York Times’s Allison Arieff called predictable. I didn’t disagree (with the same exceptions noted, Adjaye, Snohetta, Zumthor) but felt moved to comment that the list seemed to indicate they didn’t know what they wanted, a bad sign.

The new list reminded me of the list the MoMA in New York put together way back when for their expansion, which included lots of usual suspects, a few oddball choices, and an incredible diversity of approach, style, age, nationality. They acted like they wanted to change, to grow and learn and become more engaged with contemporary architectural aesthetics. But in the end they reverted to modern, rectilinear, speechless form.

Mario Botta’s building, not one of my favorites, is going to be very hard to add to. By choosing a more cohesive set of architects, the museum might have indicated what they want the expansion to do for them, both in terms of galleries and in terms of urbanism. This list makes me think they have no idea, and I don’t think that is a position of strength for a client.

Posted in: Architecture, Theory + Criticism

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Alexandra Lange Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.


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