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02.18.2009
Recession Special
MOS wins P.S.1's 2009 Young Architects Award
Courtesy P.S.1

Party’s over, kids: In a real sign of the times, the annual MoMA/P.S.1 summertime installation is no longer known as an “urban beach,” but an “urban shelter.” Admittedly, it did become a farm last year, but the trend is a sober one: The New Haven and Cambridge– based firm MOS named their winning proposal Afterparty. The project comprises a series of aluminum-framed conical structures whose dark, thatched skin will provide shade. The tent-like shapes, which will range in height from about 15 to 40 feet, are open at the top to create a chimney effect by drawing hot air up through the aperture by induction, to be replaced by air cooled at the ground level by the thermal mass of the courtyard’s concrete walls. Concrete water troughs at the center of each tent will further cool the air.

Each summer for the last 11 years, the museum has sponsored a competition to design a shade-and-water structure for its wildly popular summer DJ series, Warm-Up. Five teams are asked to submit proposals for the structure, and the winner is given a budget of $70,000 and four months in which to build it. MOS, which also just won a Progressive Architecture Award for a drive-in in Marfa, Texas, beat out the proposals of four other teams: !ndie architecture of Denver, Colorado; and L.E.F.T. architects, Bade Stageberg Cox, and PARA-project, all of New York. The commission is a valuable one, and prior winners have included SHoP Architects, Work AC, and Los Angeles–based Ball Nogues Studio.

For their submission, MOS’s Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample wanted to get away from the baroque excess that has characterized much of high-end architecture over the last few years (see under: installations in the Venice Biennale’s Arsenale). “With the Afterparty, we weren’t just thinking about it in terms of the economy, but as architecture, too. We felt the need to look for new methods of design, after the party of a sort of high-formalism that has dominated academic discourse,” said Meredith. The pair also sees the installation (which is in part inspired by the forms and functionality of Bedouin tents) as a respite from the often-frenetic nature of the Saturday evening parties at P.S.1.

Anne Guiney