The design of the new Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the husband and wife architecture team, is a hot topic these days. Critic Justin Davidson called it ‘virtuosic,’ while Christopher Hawthorne likened it to a “paint-by-numbers exercise.” Architectural Digest has an interview with the duo, whose 28-person Manhattan firm is unveiling four buildings in 2012, from Hong Kong to Washington, D.C. While there’s a slide show of their other projects as well, it’s the controversial Barnes site that’s on our minds.
The reviews have been streaming in steadily since the opening of the Barnes Foundation, the collection of early modernist masterworks of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, on Saturday at its more centrally located site along Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The building, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, at a cost of $150 million, replicates the galleries of the original structure while expanding its footprint to add new amenities like a central court, a café, a gift shop and an auditorium—a total of 93,000 square feet, compared to the original in Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia, which was only 10,000 square feet. The critics are all over the place on the new building. Here’s a cheat sheet of where some of them stand.