Friday, June 11, 2004

Two Columbus Circle: Do the Wright Thing

According to yesterday's New York Times ("Guggenheim Reviving Its Main Asset: Itself" by Carol Vogel - see it here), architect Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic, once-controversial design forthe Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Fifth Avenue at 88th Street) is about to get a "facelift."

Don't panic! Unlike Edward Durell Stone's 2 Columbus Circle , the Guggenheim is a designated NYC Landmark. Moreover, Guggenheim director Thomas Krens says, "The care and preservation of the Frank Lloyd Wright building has been a priority for us." A board member calls the structure "the most important piece of art in the collection."

Like 2 Columbus Circle, the Guggenheim attracted huge crowds and much controversy over its design when it opened in 1959. Like 2 Columbus Circle, the Guggenheim needs a little TLC (as do most half-century-old buildings). Like 2 Columbus Circle, the Guggenheim is a provocative building designed by a mid-century Modern master specifically to house a museum - therefore, like 2 Columbus Circle, the structure is almost windowless.

In a statement calling for the preservation of 2 Columbus Circle, architect and historian Robert A.M. Stern wrote: "No one will disagree that Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum is a masterpiece, though a highly idiosyncratic one to say the least....[T]here was a strong, mutually acknowledged kinship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Edward Durell Stone, whom many thought was the master's leading disciple. Ed Stone was a very important architect and that the Gallery of Modern Art is one of his masterworks. The value of Stone's work is only now coming to be re-appreciated."

***Go to and click on "Get Involved" to send Mayor Bloomberg, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Museum of Arts and Design email "postcards" telling them to do the Wright thing ! Where there's a will, there's a way!

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