Setting a New Standard with The Museum of Modern Art’s New Expansion

A sleek exterior, added gallery spaces, a revamped lobby, and greater public access to the heart of midtown Manhattan encompass the new Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Expansion. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Gensler in collaboration with MoMA, the expansion includes 115,000 sf across multiple buildings and effortlessly marries the new with the existing.

Beyond the surface, the new Museum of Modern Art silently displays some of the most forward-thinking environmental strategies setting a new standard and example for cultural institutions. The Museum emphasizes the importance of sustainability and during design, sought guidance from the design team to create a space that not only produces a seamless visitor experience but also creates a thermally comfortable area for its millions of visitors per year and the art housed within the spaces. The MoMA Expansion is also the most recent recipient of the American Alliance of Museums’ 2021 Sustainability Excellence Award for Existing Museum Facilities.  As a proven next-generation museum, this award recognizes the project’s exemplary energy savings and embodied carbon reductions in a complex museum typology with a fine art collection.

Often referred to as “invisible architecture”, our team helped advance the environmental goals and strategies of the expansion project. Our studies through the design and construction advanced the design through a detailed analysis of site and landscape connectivity, water conservation, energy conservation, desired environment for art preservation, material, and indoor environmental quality, despite the challenges found in a dense urban location.

The expansion is enhanced through the combination of an optimized building envelope, efficient lighting design, and a low energy conditioning system that responds to the variable occupancy of the museum throughout the day. The materials used throughout the building are low-emitting to reduce VOCs in the indoor air. CO2 sensors further improve the indoor air quality of the museum by increasing ventilation when occupancy grows.

Our work on the expansion had a large impact on the existing building, including an updated green cleaning policy and renovation of existing public restrooms with efficient water fixtures. These strategies along with several others have set higher standards for the design and operations of the Museum for many years to come.

The momentum and enthusiasm from MoMA pushed the project beyond its initial ambitions and ultimately achieved a LEED Platinum certification. The project is the fourth LEED Platinum certified art museum in the U.S. and one of the first LEED Platinum art museums in the U.S. certified under the ID+C rating system.

The Atelier Ten project team included Director Nico Kienzl, Associate Shivani Shah, Associate Rebecca Riss, and Senior Environmental Designer Devanshi Dadia.