Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

This New House

“The model for MoMA is Manhattan itself,” says its architect, Yoshio Taniguchi. “The Sculpture Garden is Central Park, and around it is a city with buildings of various functions and purpose. MoMA is a microcosm of Manhattan.”

It’s always been hard to see the Museum of Modern Art. Neither 53rd nor 54th Street is wide. MoMA has no park to give it contrast, no steps to give it grandeur, and $425 million later, it still has none of those things. What Taniguchi has done, in a renovation of the museum so extensive it amounts to a reinvention, is to have intensified what was already there. There’s a subtle increase in sheen, a blacker black glass than that of the charcoal 1984 Museum Tower, and a whiter white, icier than the original white-marble 1939 façade. His new parts—you have to look closer to see them—make the old make perfect sense. Each gridded façade lines up with the next, like the alignment of the blocks.