New York Times Critic Michael Kimmelman Calls Frick’s Expansion Proposal “BIG, BAD, CONSERVATIVE, VAGUE …”

The New Year is quickly approaching, and before all attentions are exclusively occupied by holiday merry-making, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman issued a powerful statement concerning the Frick Collection’s expansion proposal:

The plan is big, bad, conservative, vague, a blight on the street, and it destroys, unnecessarily, a cherished garden by Russell Page that should be designated a landmark. Shame on the Frick for not doing better, and even contemplating that move. Mediocre architecture and mediocre thinking do not befit such a glorious and beloved collection.

Posted to his Facebook page yesterday, Kimmelman’s “new year’s wish” (as he called it when sharing via Twitter), is to be shared far and wide to all those following this important issue! Read the full post below.

And Mr. Kimmelman will be happy to know that on the matter of landmark protection for the Russell Page-designed Viewing Garden, it is already done! Both the Garden and the complementary and contemporary Reception Hall Pavilion are protected landmarks, as part of The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library’s Individual Landmarks designation, issued in 1973 and amended in 1974. Learn more about the landmark distinction of the Frick ensemble here.

Kimmelman FB

It’s approaching the end of December. It’s critical as the year ends and people lose track of what’s left unresolved, going into the new year, that everybody concerned about art, architecture, landscape architecture and the welfare of our streets and city not lose sight of what’s at stake in the Frick’s badly conceived expansion proposal. The plan is big, bad, conservative, vague, a blight on the street, and it destroys, unnecessarily, a cherished garden by Russell Page that should be designated a landmark. Shame on the Frick for not doing better, and even contemplating that move. Mediocre architecture and mediocre thinking do not befit such a glorious and beloved collection.

Rightly concerned that the plan will soon face headwinds when it must run the gauntlet of Landmarks and other public approval agencies in 2015, the museum continues to flog the plan wherever it can, making the same wrong, tired arguments through proxy news outlets and other venues.

But the good news is that, if the Frick, as was the Public Library, to its everlasting credit, is willing to listen to public concern and think afresh, there are excellent alternatives, which still allow the Frick to expand, as it should, rejuvenate the Frick library, which is historic but moribund, embrace new and innovative architecture, unlike what it proposes, preserve the garden and prevent a great institution from joining MoMA as a once-beloved place now disgraced and tarnished because of a reckless expansion policy. That’s on my new year’s wish list.

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