Page D3.2 . 08 May 2002                     
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    Folk Art Museum

    continued

    Tribute to Influential Folk

    Tsien and Williams count among their architectural influences Louis Kahn and Carlo Scarpa and the spirits of both these architects are on display at the American Folk Art Museum.

    Concrete's expressive qualities are explored in the variety of finishes smooth and rough, ground and polished. Light is used as a material as it rakes across surfaces and textures, bringing them to life. Maple handrails are delicately tapered, as one might expect of a Shaker chair leg, while metal hardware details are simple and elegant.

    Nowhere in this building do the materials seem to upstage the art. In fact, everywhere you look, architecture is in the service of the contents, yet it never loses its own distinctive identity amid the works of American folk life.

    Over the past few years, the architecture of some of the most celebrated art museums (such as the Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank Gehry and the addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum by Santiago Calatrava) has bordered on upstaging the very art these museums contain. At the American Folk Art Museum, Williams and Tsien have created a container that defers and satisfies our longing for architecture as a timeless art.

    Michael J. Crosbie is editor-in-chief of Faith & Form, an associate with Steven Winter Associates, and a contributing editor to ArchitectureWeek.

     

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    The American Folk Art Museum by Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates in midtown Manhattan.
    Image: Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    Section looking west.
    Image: Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates

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    Section looking south.
    Image: Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates

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    Floor 3.
    Image: Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates

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    Floor 4.
    Image: Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates

     

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