At New York's P.S.1 Art Center, The Party Goes On

June 17, 2009

By Anya Kaplan-Seem

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program, run by New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. The program invites emerging architects to create a temporary outdoor landscape in P.S.1’s concrete courtyard in Queens, home to its Warm Up summer music series. According to Barry Bergdoll, MoMA’s chief curator of architecture and design, the program often acts “as a barometer” of research trends among young designers.

Model of afterparty, the winning project of the 2009 MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program, by the firm MOS.
Model of afterparty, the winning project of the 2009 MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program, by the firm MOS.
Images © 2009 MOS
Model of afterparty, the winning project of the 2009 MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program, by the firm MOS. The architects are Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample.
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This year, the winning concept, which Bergdoll calls “very much in the mood of the times,” is by the Cambridge- and New Haven–based firm MOS. Dubbed afterparty, it was chosen from among the proposals of five finalists selected out of a pool of about 40 invited nominees. The other finalists were !ndie architecture, Bade Stageberg Cox, L.E.FT architects, and PARA-project.

In response to the program brief, which required only that architects provide shade, seating, a bar area, and water elements within a $70,000 budget, MOS’s Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample created what they call an “urban shelter” and “cooling station.” Their installation is a network of cones and domes made of aluminum and dark-colored thatch; scattered underneath the tent-like structures are benches and concrete water troughs. The design is a direct response to the courtyard site’s extreme heat and to P.S.1’s industrial neighborhood. The installation’s tallest conical forms will act as thermal chimneys, drawing hot air up and out; they will also look like chimneys, mimicking what Meredith calls the surrounding “landscape of smokestacks.”

The architects say the troubled state of the economy influenced their design. “The idea of all these people partying for us was a little weird given the situation at hand,” says Meredith, “so we tried to produce more intimate spaces to hang out in, lots of seating, a slightly more somber atmosphere.” Sample says they also aimed to use simple features, like arches and oculi, that would be easy to construct.

According to Bergdoll, the economy also influenced MoMA, which discussed suspending the Young Architects Program, but decided that to do so would be terrible. “If the museum couldn’t support young architects through thick and thin,” he says, “that would not really represent our commitment to contemporary architecture.”

MOS's afterparty is presently being installed and goes on public display June 28; the music series kicks off Saturday, July 4. All five finalists' proposals will be exhibited at MoMA, in Manhattan, over the summer.

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