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Ball-Nogues Selected in MoMA/P.S. 1 Young Architects Competition

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Images: © 2007 The Museum of Modern Art.


Ball-Nogues Studio has won the 2007 Young Architects Competition, sponsored by New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and its Queens affiliate P.S. 1. The firm’s installation “Liquid Sky” will be unveiled at P.S. 1 on June 21st. It involves dropping water from the tops of utility poles and draping a multicolored membrane over the contemporary art museum’s courtyard.

“We wanted to create a kaleidoscopic color pattern on the ground, which ended up driving much of the form,” explains Benjamin Ball, principal of the Los Angeles-based atelier. To accomplish this, Ball-Nogues designed a tessellated membrane surface of tinted Mylar petals that will canopy the larger of two courtyards. Utility poles will support this membrane, helping to define discrete spaces within the courtyard. Large nets will stretch between the polls, Ball says, forming “community hammocks.”

The competition brief demands three elements: seating, shade, and water. The last of the three has played a distinctive role in other designs at P.S. 1. Ball-Nogues re-introduces it this year—but not in the standing pools or misters of years past. While the name Liquid Sky partly refers to the membrane’s tessellated structure, it becomes quite literal in a second, smaller courtyard, where they plan to dump water from large tip-buckets perched atop “drench poles.”

What will be undeniably carnivalesque is still the outcome of sophisticated material and fabrication research. Executed in collaboration with engineer Paul Endres, of Endres Ware Architects/Engineers, it combines cutting-edge digital design with traditional approaches borrowed from the sailboat industry.

Barry Bergdoll, the Modern’s chief curator of architecture and a member of the competition selection committee, praises the installation as an “encounter between research and playfulness done in a fun and savant way.” Citing the merits of its fabrication and formal research, he calls the project a “funscape that will animate everything going on during the summer at P.S. 1.”

John Gendall