New York's MAD gets new home in controversial building

Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:39pm EDT
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By Christian Wiessner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - For decades the bunker-like building near Central Park in Manhattan was considered a blight on the city's landscape, despite its Venetian motifs and porthole windows.

But a thorough resurfacing and cuts through the thick concrete facade allowing light to stream in have transformed it into the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), which opens its doors to the public on September 27.

"For years, this building was reviled," said Dorothy Globus, curator of exhibitions at MAD.

"It was a bunker, you couldn't see anything and it didn't function," she added in an interview.

Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable dismissed it as "a die-cut Venetian palazzo on lollipops," referring to the support columns at its base. Following her comments it was dubbed "The Lollipop Building."

The six-year renovation project of the building that originally opened in 1964 has enabled MAD to double the exhibition space for its 3,000 works of art in traditional craft mediums like ceramic, glass, metal, fiber and wood materials that are enhanced by abundant natural light.

The new facade of glazed terra cotta panels, which take on natural light, subtly change the color and character of the building's exterior, depending on point of view and the different times of day and year.

Brad Cloepfil, of Allied Works Architecture which worked on the building, said the cuts in the facade allow a "force of light" from all four sides that "activate the collection."   Continued...