Imagine One of New York's Most Famous Buildings, 13 Stories Higher

Architects propose a massive expansion as a cheeky critique of the preciousness of iconic buildings.

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Oiio Architecture Office

People hate the new, before accepting it and ultimately—if it’s good and marketable enough—canonizing it. That can be said of modernism’s most iconic buildings, from Mies’s Barcelona Pavilion to Le Corbusier’s chapel at Ronchamp and, our subject at hand, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Despite their initial birthing pangs and angsty formative years, these structures have all been warmly accepted in the arms of their respective national cultures. They have been landmarked as immutable treasures, each representative of a "unique moment in architectural history," so that making any change, however small or radical, to them would be perceived as an inconceivable, even immoral act.

But don’t freak out when you see that lead image. As you might glean from the title, the Guggenheim Extension Story is not, in fact, a real project.  Oiio Architecture Office, the architects behind the tall tale, have no actual plans or ambitions to add thirteen floors to FLW’s Guggenheim Museum. Instead, they conceived of the cheeky scheme as a kind of critique on the preciousness of listed and iconic architectures.

"[The] Guggenheim Museum," they write, "has become so iconic, so emblematic and hermetic in our minds that it can no longer be touched by architects!"

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The ironclad laws of heritage and preservation would even have prevented Wright himself—resurrected from grave—to make any modifications to his own building, the designers claim. "Even if its own creator were to propose an alternation of its form, New Yorkers would suddenly feel as if they have lost a dear old friend." While the design merits of the "proposal" are interesting enough, it’s the project’s snark that proves the more appealing and effective. Also, just look at that section…

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All images: Oiio Architecture Office

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

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