I’m planning to go MAD this weekend. MAD is the Museum of Arts and Design, which is opening at its spiffy new location at 2 Columbus Circle in Midtown Manhattan with a weekend of free events. And in this city of $20 museum entrance fees, that’s a big pull.

Photo courtesy David Heald on MAD Web site

I’ve been watching the building taking shape for a while now. You can see a video of the (much-abbreviated) process here. With its gently curved facade looking out on busy Columbus Circle, the building is situated at a major node of human activity. The mirrored towers of the Time Warner Center rise nearby, and Central Park beckons just across the street.

The architecture critics are having their say about the new building, with some detractors and some big fans. The New York Times has a wonderfully entertaining and informative multi-media feature about the building’s transformation from Edward Durell Stone’s Gallery of Modern Art, which was built in 1964 to house Huntington Hartford’s art collection. “The galleries weren’t elegant, they were snazzy – walnut panels, parquet floors, bronze fixtures and crimson carpeting,” says the Times narrator about the old gallery space. Love that description, but my favourite part is where the narrator cites architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable’s description of the old building as “a factory-made Venetian palazzo on lollipops!”

Personally, I love the way Allied Works Architecture, led by Brad Cloepfil, took a bulky oddity of a building and turned it into a shimmering, elegant edifice. Pearlescent ceramic tiles cover the exterior, taking on different sheens as the light changes.

The excisions into the exterior allow light to flood into the galleries and apparently the transparent glass bands traverse the building internally as well.

It’s a building within a building. The architects removed the marble cladding of the old building (bottom left picture, below), but they kept the famous “lollipop” arcades on the ground floor as a reference to the building’s past, which are only visible from the interior (above left picture).

Photos clockwise from top left: Hannah Whitaker (2); Ed Bailey/AP from the New York Web site

I can’t wait to experience the building from the inside. More about that at a later date.