The New New MoMA Extension

Citing a strong real estate market, the museum has sold a vacant lot to develop an additional 50,000 square feet of exhibition space

The Museum of Modern Art is growing—again. Just over two years after opening expanded galleries designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, MoMA announced on January 2 that it is selling its last empty parcel in midtown Manhattan to the Houston-based real estate firm Hines. The site, measuring 17,062 square feet and located on 54th Street directly west of the existing museum, will change hands for $125 million.

Hines will develop the property as a mixed-use facility that will connect to the museum’s galleries on the second, fourth, and fifth floors, providing an additional 50,000 square feet of exhibition space to MoMA’s existing 125,000 square feet. In addition, MoMA will get 10,000 square feet of storage in the basement. After construction costs, museum director Glenn Lowry expects the sale will leave MoMA with some $65 million to add to its endowment.

Lowry says that initially, further expansion of the galleries was a long-term plan, but that the museum was able to assemble the saleable parcel faster than expected, and that a surging real estate market created an opportune time to sell. He does not expect the new development to significantly affect the existing building. “Taniguchi designed his building knowing exactly what our long-term intention was in terms of developing the west end,” Lowry says. “He, in fact, designed his building, one, so that it would want to be compressed by another building going up to its west, and two, so that you could blow out all the walls at the west end to connect to that building.” Hines has not yet set a timeframe nor selected an architect for the new development.

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