I take it that the building is not landmarked.
Almost twenty years after it opened, the Queens Museum undertook its first major renovation. In 1994, Rafael Viñoly significantly redesigned the existing space, creating some of the most dramatic exhibition galleries in New York. In the near future, the Museum will begin a second renovation; it will double in size by expanding into the north side of the New York City Building.
The Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss was selected, through an international competition, to design this expansion. Many aspects of Moss’ design impressed the competition judges, but the beautiful light-filled entrance area designed to draw park visitors into the Museum attracted particular applause.
The expansion will see the Museum double in size. New galleries will house works from the permanent collection and allow greater flexibility for showing temporary exhibitions. More public programs and special events will be held specially designed spaces. The education department will be able to better serve the thousands of students and adults participate in workshops each year. With a soaring central atrium designed for public use, the Museum will be able to better serve its visitors and community, as well as offering Queens a stunning new architectural landmark.
The design strategy for the Queens Museum of Art uncovers the organizational strengths of the original building and simultaneously suggests new prospects for public participation, exhibition and performance.
AWARDS: International Design Competition Winner, 2001
The New York City Building was constructed as the cities pavilion for the 1939 World’s Fair. From 1946 to 1950 the building served as the first home of the United Nations before moving to it’s current location. The building was once again used as New York City's pavilion in the 1964 World’s Fair. The Queens Museum of Art was founded in 1972 in the northern half of the building, and is now expanding into the entirety of the New York City Building.
THE MAIN EVENT
The initial design gesture is surgical - the center portion of the building is removed exposing the panorama enclosure as a primary solid. Steel roof trusses remain and a re-enclosed central volume surrounding the panorama becomes the spatial main event for public promenade, art display, music performance, dramatic presentation and a multipurpose space for artist expression. The original floor is removed and the earth excavated, leaving a bowl, gently sloping toward a theoretical center at the base of the panorama. Temporary seating, oriented toward the panorama, can be placed within the bowl and exhibits can be mounted variously over the sloping surfaces.
Pedestrian circulation on the site has been redirected from the Beaux Arts axis, passing around the perimeter of the new event space, viewing the exhibits without actually entering the museum. The intent of this cross-purpose, “short-cut”, circulation is to expose the broader public to contemporary art.
THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN
The earth excavated from the bowl is re-used, stacked as a linear, acoustic mountain east of the museum on the edge of the parkway. The mountain will become a sculpture garden viewed from the museum, from passing automobiles and most importantly from along a pedestrian walkway, re-directing the public from the zoo, over the mountain/sculpture garden into (or through) the main event space.
A laminated glass “drape” re-encloses the main event area. The glass will be transparent, translucent, or opaque by turn depending on the exhibits within. Glass color is controlled by low voltage wires, which alter the glass from clear to opaque white.
Last edited by Kris; October 5th, 2006 at 08:49 AM.
I take it that the building is not landmarked.
Queens Museum Of Art Set To Undergo Major Expansion
by Kim Brown, Central and Mid Queens Editor
October 21, 2004
The Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss’s recently released design for a glassed-in entranceway to the Queens Museum of Art.
Set to undergo a $28.8-million renovation, the Queens Museum of Art released designs for an expansion that will double its size.
“We plan on opening up the building to make it more accessible,” said Executive Director Tom Finkelpearl. “One of the problems now is that entering the building, it always feels like coming in a side door.”
The Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss was selected, through an international competition, to design the expansion. The museum will take over the space now occupied by an ice-skating rink in the same Flushing Meadows-Corona Park building. The rink will relocate to a new facility in the park.
Additional plans include a light-filled entrance area designed to draw park visitors into the museum, a central atrium and a larger cafe. Specially designed spaces will allow more room for public programs and special events.
“Hundreds of thousands of people drive past the museum and they don’t see it. We look closed,” said Finkelpearl. “Our new glassed-in entrance will announce the building and make it easier to see from other parts of the park.”
By expanding the museum, Finkelpearl hopes to attract more Queens residents.
“Right now people who live in Queens go to Manhattan for culture,” he said. “Once we have a bigger museum and cafe, coming to us will be a day-long outing worth the amount of time it takes in travel.”
After the renovation, the museum staff will need to find art suitable for filling the new, 50,000-square-foot exhibition hall. “What do you do with a room the size of an ice rink?” said Finkelpearl. “This will be an incredible challenge.”
The new galleries will house works from the museum’s permanent collection and allow greater flexibility for showing temporary exhibitions. Some exhibits being considered include work by Andy Warhol and Joseph Cornell. Finkelpearl is considering all major artists who have been in Queens.
The construction will begin in 2006 and last approximately two years. The museum will close for one season. During that time there will be temporary outdoor exhibitions in Flushing, Jackson Heights and other Queens neighborhoods. Museum staff will also continue their arts education programs in schools.
The building that houses the Queens Museum of Art was built by architect Aymar Embury II for the 1939 World’s Fair and is the only major surviving structure from that event. In the years following the World War II, it housed the General Assembly of the United Nations. The decisions to partition Palestine and Korea as well as the decision to admit Israel to the U.N. were made in the building.
In 1964, the building returned to its original purpose and became the New York City pavilion for that year’s World’s Fair, housing the Panorama of the City of New York. The 9,335-square-foot panorama contains 895,000 miniature buildings.
The Queens Museum of Art was founded in 1972. In addition to the Panorama, it is home to permanent exhibitions about the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs as well as Tiffany by Design: Selections from the Neustadt Museum Collection.
January 26, 2005
Queens Museum Is to Redesign a Redesign
By ROBIN POGREBIN
Eric Owen Moss's prizewinning 2001 design for the Queens Museum.
It is easy to see why the original design for a renovated Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park initially captured the imagination. The building would have been draped in glass that could change from clear to opaque, framing the museum's signature exhibition, a vast architectural model of New York City. The design, by the Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss, was chosen from among nearly 200 entries in a competition judged by prominent architects.
Now, three years after it was selected, Mr. Moss's design has become a piece of architectural history. The city-owned museum, together with the New York Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Cultural Affairs, has decided to abandon it and begin again with a new architect.
A change in architects may not seem earthshaking. But the Queens Museum's about-face suggests how a much-heralded public architecture project can be derailed by economics, politics, personalities and competing visions of how an institution operates day to day.
"I think the whole story is kind of sad," said Ralph Lerner, a former dean of Princeton University's architecture school, who was an adviser for the architectural competition. "There was tremendous optimism, and the city really threw their support behind it. We had a top-notch jury, great competitors."
In August 2001, architects from all over the country were invited to submit their ideas for doubling the museum's size, to about 100,000 square feet, from 45,000. Conceptually, it was no easy challenge: the building was designed by Aymar Embury II, better known for country houses, as an Art Deco-ish pavilion for the 1939 World's Fair; it is the only building remaining from that event. For the World's Fair in 1964, Robert Moses had the 9,335-square-foot city panorama installed. The museum's site in the park is where the United Nations General Assembly made its first home, before moving to Manhattan in 1952.
The museum itself opened its doors in 1972 to provide a cultural center for Queens. In addition to the panorama, it is home to permanent exhibitions about the two World's Fairs, as well as "Tiffany by Design: Selections from the Neustadt Museum Collection." In the middle of the building there is still an ice hockey rink that is to be removed and relocated by the Parks Department. Except for a three-year, $15 million upgrade of parts of the museum by Rafael Viñoly in 1994, the building has been largely untouched.
Yet the site has clear potential. One length of the building faces the wide-open, verdant setting of the park, near the striking, albeit decrepit, World's Fair Unisphere. Grand Central Parkway rolls by on the other. Shea Stadium and the Arthur Ashe tennis stadium nearby offer a crop of potential visitors, though few currently drop in.
And the building is obviously in need of rejuvenation. The stone facade hard by the parkway is forbidding and outdated. Letters are missing from the sign - the E in Museum, for example. Inside, the "cafe" consists of four vending machines and a few metal tables; the guard sells packaged sushi and sandwiches at the front desk on weekends. And there is no grand entrance to signal that visitors have arrived.
"You always feel like you're coming in the side door," said Tom Finkelpearl, the museum's executive director. "People who are in the park don't realize we're open."
Mr. Moss, an architect based in Culver City, Calif., who has an eclectic portfolio of private and public buildings, including several recent commissions in Los Angeles, was intrigued by the Queens project. "It would have a kind of civic importance both to the Grand Central Parkway and the park," he said.
"I was excited," he added. "My family is from New York."
Mr. Moss titled his winning design, selected in December 2001, "Recollecting Forward," meaning that the project acknowledged the history of the existing building while imagining a very different future for it and the park.
His design had four overarching concepts: "the main event," which called for the removal of the central part of the existing building and its conversion into a large exhibition space with a theater and presentation area; the "magic mountain," in which the excavated earth would be piled along the parkway's edge, forming an acoustic barrier and framing a sculpture garden; the "highway," a path connecting the museum with the nearby Queens Zoo, Shea Stadium and the tennis stadium; and the "drape," a bent-glass roof and wall enclosing the main exhibition space.
Anne Papageorge, then acting commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction and a juror, said of the design just after the competition, "This scheme created what's frankly a magnificent event in the center of the existing facade."
The plan that the museum ultimately approved reduced the scale of the central area, retained the path to other Queens attractions, eliminated the mountain and replaced the glass drape with two long skylights. Mr. Moss said he was not happy with the changes but accepted them. "It was my sense that the visionary conviction of the project originally enunciated in the brief was sustained," he said. "We all went forward - and I thought, positively and optimistically - with the scheme and an approved budget."
The glass drape that Mr. Moss initially designed would have cost about $40 million, he and others involved said. But the available budget was only about $27 million, which the Cultural Affairs Department is to underwrite.
But as Mr. Moss continued work on the project, things began to shift around him. The cast of top decision-makers changed: Mr. Finkelpearl, formerly deputy director of P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, took over as director in 2002, replacing Laurene Buckley and her interim successor, Carma Fauntleroy; Alan Suna, the chief executive of Silvercup Studios, became the president of the board; and David J. Burney became the commissioner of the city's Design and Construction Department.
"Early in the fall of 2004, the museum director began to raise concerns that suggested the surprise arrival of an entirely different set of priorities," Mr. Moss said. "Should we move the bookstore? The restaurant? Should we relocate the classrooms?"
"These questions were answerable - or had already been answered," he continued. "And they were relatively small issues in the budget context, and in practical terms, readily solvable."
Mr. Suna said this was an oversimplification. Having been largely excluded from the selection process the first time around, he said, the board wanted a say in the final design. And when it came to reconciling its requirements with Mr. Moss's vision, the two did not see eye to eye. "Eric was the winner of a competition - a competition which did not have really any bounds," Mr. Suna said. "As we got down to the workings of it, it was all different."
"Not enough time was spent on designing the parkway side of the building," he said. "Nor was there sufficient detail on how the actual museum worked, all the parts and pieces."
Mr. Finkelpearl, the museum director, said of the design, "There was a general overarching feeling that it wasn't doing the trick."
So in November, the museum's board and city representatives met and decided to end the relationship with Mr. Moss. "We looked at each other and said, 'This is just not working - it's not meeting the basic programmatic needs, and we have to go in a different direction,' " Mr. Finkelpearl recalled.
Mr. Moss said he was taken aback. "The scheme had been agreed upon by everyone, the budget was signed off on, we had started to work on the next phase," he said.
Mr. Burney of the city's Department of Design and Construction suggested that the creative aspect of the original competition collided with the less glamorous reality of getting something built. "For cultural institutions that are on limited funds," he said, "there is a terrific conflict between creating an iconic building that is a fund raiser - that is an advertisement for a building, that puts it on the map - and a building that meets back-office needs, exhibition space," he said.
But Mr. Moss maintained that it was more a matter of a changing of the guard. "I think the truth of the matter is that the new people involved wanted a different building," he said.
"My guess is, they'll simplify what we did - improve the interior in a prosaic, pragmatic, piecemeal way," he added.
There will be no competition for Mr. Moss's successor; an architect will be chosen by the museum and the city from a preapproved list of eight architects compiled by the Department of Design and Construction for projects of $5 million or more. They are Fox & Fowle Architects, a finalist the first time; Mr. Viñoly; Polshek Partnership Architects; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Arquitectonica; 1100 Architects; the team of Ammann & Whitney and Grimshaw Architects; and Gluckman Mayner Architects. Mr. Burney said he expected to name an architect within six weeks and to start work on the museum by midyear.
"Eric is a very good designer," Mr. Burney said. "Sometimes you get to a point where it's just appropriate to make a switch."
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
What a disaster. Queens gets screwed again. These architects will basically expand and reorganize, but not dazzle. Dazzle is what this place needed. This isn't Manhattan, damnit. This also speaks to the POS bureaucracy that makes everthing in NY like pulling teeth.
Museum plan is a go
Architects chosen for expansion, renovation
BY DONALD BERTRAND
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
A $28.5 million plan to double the size of the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is back on track.
The city has announced Grimshaw Architects as the new architect for the museum's expansion and renovation.
In 2002, a group of preservationists and architectural historians criticized an earlier design. It called for an irregularly shaped glass structure to be erected at the entrance to the museum, which was the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair.
Local historian Barry Lewis said the design looked "like the building was bombed in the London Blitz."
In a joint release, the city Design and Construction Department and the Cultural Affairs Department, as well as museum officials, said the selection process has allowed them to choose the firm whose work "is the most relevant to the demands of the museum's needs and site."
Because much of the work done by the original architectural firm, Eric Owen Moss, is still relevant, there should be no major delays in opening the addition, said the museum's executive director, Tom Finkelpearl.
"A lot of the meetings with the original architects to determine our needs - how many square feet needed for cafe, how much square feet we need for education classrooms, for exhibition space - hold true," said Finkelpearl. "We feel very confident that we are not starting from point one."
What did hold up the plans was the fact that the city halted work on a new home for the skating rink that presently occupies the southern half of the building. Announced in late 2000, the complex was scheduled to be completed in June 2002.
Work began in spring 2001 at the site - east of the U.S. Tennis Association Tennis Center and west of the Van Wyck Expressway - but was stopped after hundreds of pilings were sunk because of increased costs and a slumping economy.
After additional funding was secured - much of it from the office of Borough President Helen Marshall - work on the 70,000-square-foot indoor pool and skating rink complex is up and running again.
Marshall also was responsible for securing significant funding for the museum project.
As to the historic preservation issue, Finkelpearl said, "The function of the building and the nature of the park are very different from 1939 when this was built, so we have to make something work for us now."
From 1946 to 1950, the building served as headquarters for the United Nations, and it became the New York City Pavilion again for the 1964 World's Fair. It was converted into the Queens Museum of Art in 1972.
Originally published on March 24, 2005
October 5, 2006
With a New Look, a Museum Hopes to Catch Your Eye
By ROBIN POGREBIN
A computer rendering of the proposed interior of the Queens Museum of Art.
A rendering of the west facade of the Queens Museum of Art.
Some people strolling past the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park assume that the building is closed. And many motorists speed by it on the Grand Central Parkway without realizing that the museum even exists. The building itself has an eclectic history cluttered with the contributions of earlier architects.
So Grimshaw Architects had a clear challenge when it was selected to redesign the museum by replacing an ice hockey rink in the building with a new wing and renovating the outside and the interior. What its architects came up with — in collaboration with Ammann & Whitney — will be unveiled on Saturday at the museum during Openhousenewyork Weekend, the annual architecture and design event.
Aymar Embury II designed the original building as a pavilion for the 1939 World’s Fair, and later it was home to the United Nations General Assembly, from 1946 to 1950. Robert Moses installed a 9,335-square-foot city panorama there for the 1964 World’s Fair. Then it became a museum in 1972, with a permanent collection of Tiffany glass. Rafael Viñoly upgraded parts of the museum in 1994, and Eric Owen Moss won a competition to redesign the building in 2002. But three years later Mr. Moss’s plan for a building draped in glass that could change from clear to opaque was abandoned as insufficient for the museum’s needs.
The museum sits in a popular park near the World’s Fair Unisphere. But it is also close to the highway. While the 12-minute walk from the No. 7 line to the museum is slightly longer than the walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the No. 6 line, it can feel longer because of the absence of city streets.
The architects’ answer to all this — on a tight budget of $37 million — had to satisfy the city, which is footing virtually the whole bill. Their design will be included in an exhibition that opens Friday at the Center for Architecture, “Going Public 2: City Snapshot(s) and Case Studies of the Mayor’s Design and Construction Excellence Initiative,” which features public projects in New York City. Grimshaw was selected through the initiative, which picks a rotating roster of architects who submit proposals for specific projects.
“They have done an intensely thorough analysis and helped the museum define what they wanted to do with that building,” David J. Burney, the commissioner of the city’s Design and Construction Department, said of Grimshaw.
Grimshaw, which has offices in Melbourne, Australia, and London, as well as New York, is designing the Fulton Street Transit Center in Lower Manhattan and new street furniture like bus shelters for New York City.
Grimshaw’s design for the Queens museum is circumspect. The most striking intervention is an interior courtyard space with a skylight — the architects call it “the winter garden” — that can be used for sculpture, film series and other events, and that sends light into the surrounding new galleries. The redesign doubles the museum’s square footage to 105,000 and expands the existing bookstore.
The building is one long structure, and the architects tried to see “how the museum can enjoy the heroic, cathedral-like space, yet at the same time create intimate galleries appropriate for showing art,” said Andrew Whalley, director of Grimshaw’s New York office.
To make the museum more transparent and welcoming, the architects established two grand entrances. On the western edge, facing the parkway, is a new piazza with a drop-off area. (About half of the museum’s visitors come by car.)
The eastern facade along the park reclaims the building’s original colonnade, with a glass curtain wall that brings light and visibility into the building. The park side has a public square for people visiting the new cafe or the branch of the Queens Public Library that will also be in the building.
Recognizing the building’s important position in the park’s geometry, the design emphasizes the north-south axis through the building, with a striking view of the Unisphere from the western entrance.
“It’s a Queens icon,” said Tom Finkelpearl, the museum’s executive director. “It’s in our front yard, but it’s never been used properly.”
The city has committed $33 million to the project, of which the office of the Queens borough president, Helen M. Marshall, contributed $21 million. The museum will raise the remainder from private sources. The annual operating budget in the new building is expected to grow 60 percent, to $4.8 million from $3.2 million. Construction is to begin in early 2008, with a completion date of late 2009.
To draw attention to the building, its western facade will feature light and color graphics, and a wall of acid-etched glass will spell out the museum’s name in each of the 138 languages spoken in Queens. The entrance is meant to reflect the neighborhood, said Mark Husser, Grimshaw’s principal architect on the project: “It’s changing and it’s dynamic.”
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company