MAD…The Museum of Art and Design

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), based in Manhattan in New York, New York, is a center for the collection, preservation, study, and display of contemporary hand-made objects in a variety of media, including: clay, glass, metal, fiber, and wood. It accommodates 300,000 visitors per year, however, touring exhibitions, outreach efforts, and off-site programs effectively double that audience.
The museum was founded in 1956 by philanthropist Aileen Osborn Webb, as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts. In 1986, it relocated to 40 West 53rd Street and was renamed the American Craft Museum. In 2002 it changed its name again to the Museum of Arts and Design. In 2008, the museum moved to 2 Columbus Circle.
The new location, with more than 54,000 square feet (5,000 m2), more than tripled the size of the Museum’s former space. It includes: four floors of exhibition galleries for works by established and emerging artists; a 150-seat auditorium in which the museum plans to feature lectures, films, and performances; and a restaurant. It also includes a Center for the Study of Jewelry, and an Education Center that offers multi-media access to primary source material, hands-on classrooms for students, and three artists-in-residence studios.
However, the museum’s plans to radically alter the building’s original design by Edward Durell Stone touched off a preservation battle joined by Tom Wolfe, Chuck Close, Frank Stella, Robert A. M. Stern, Columbia art history department chairman Barry Bergdoll, New York Times architecture critics Herbert Muschamp and Nicolai Ouroussoff, urbanist scholar Witold Rybczynski, among others. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Ada Louise Huxtable, and others, however, supported the redevelopment of a long neglected site.
The museum’s new location was developed by Brad Cloepfil and his Portland, Oregon-based firm Allied Works Architecture. The redesigned building replaced the original white Vermont Marble with a glazed terra-cotta and glass facade. Its nacreous ceramic exterior is said to change color at different viewing angles.
Against Cloepfil’s wishes, the museum’s board and its director, Holly Hotchner, ordered that a band of windows be added to the building’s top floor. This added a horizontal strip which connected a pair of vertical bands to create the shape of a letter H. Another vertical band on the western side of the building, reads as an I. Of the addition to the word “HI” to his design, Cloepfil said that “he has never felt more violated in any way.”
The architecture critic for the LA Times, Christopher Hawthorne, wrote:
It’s as if Stone, his architecture muffled and disregarded by Cloepfil, MAD and the city of New York, managed to have the last word on the preservation controversy, popping up from beyond the grave to say hello. The fact that the word in question is unpretentious and loosely informal makes it deliciously Stone-like, and allows it to undermine the severity and cold perfectionism of Cloepfil’s exterior all the more.

An article in the New York Times acknowledged that when Holly Hotchner first became the director of the institution ten years ago “few people seemed to have heard of it.” Today the museum may be best known for “the bitter preservation battle arose over its purchase and planned renovation of 2 Columbus Circle, the 1964 ‘lollipop’ building near Central Park designed by Edward Durell Stone.” Ms. Hotchner said she “hopes it will become known for what it does, not where it is.”