News
02.05.2014
The Living Wins at MoMA PS1
Experimental firm to construct low carbon, self-building pavilion for 2014 Young Architects Program.
Rendering of The Living's Hy-Fi, winning design of the 2014 Young Architects Program.
Courtesy The Living

The Living, an experimental New York–based practice lead by David Benjamin, has been selected to design and build the 15th edition of MoMA PS 1’s Young Architects Program (YAP). Known for using advanced technology to mimic biological structures or respond to atmospheric conditions, The Living’s proposal, called Hy-Fi, represents a new direction for the annual pavilion program.

According to Benjamin’s proposal, Hy-Fi will use pioneering, self-building technology, and will be completely recyclable and nearly carbon neutral. Using innovative organic bricks invented by Ecovative and brick molds covered reflective film, developed by 3M, the circular structure will be strong, lightweight, and have extremely low embodied carbon. The organic bricks, which are placed at the bottom of the structure in a loose and porous way, are made from corn stalks and living root structures that give them strength. “We like that it uses agricultural byproducts, rather than high value agricultural products,” said David Benjamin. “This is the first load-bearing application of this material.” Organic dyes will be added to the bricks to give them vibrant, natural colors. The reflective brick molds function as growing trays for the organic bricks, and are incorporated into the top of the structure, reflecting daylight down into the pavilion. The circular forms will act as cooling towers, and after the summer ends it will be deconstructed and the organic bricks will be composted in Queens and the reflective bricks will be returned to 3M for additional research.

 
 

“This proposal was the one that connected incredible research—really out of the box thinking about sustainability—with the architectural needs of the program,” Pedro Gadnho, the MoMA architecture curator in charge of the YAP, told AN. For the museum, Hy-Fi will act as a visual beacon, a trio of a multicolored and reflective towers extending above the concrete walls of the courtyard.

 

The other finalists for this year’s MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program were LAMAS (Wei-Han Vivian Lee and James Macgillivray), Pita + Bloom (Florencia Pita and Jackilin Hah Bloom), Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (Cristina Goberna and Urtzi Grau), Collective-LOK (Michael Kubo, Jon Lott, and William O’Brien).

 
 

In it’s 15 editions, the YAP has become one the leading showcases for architectural talent in the US. “People keep coming up with new things,” Gadanho said. “It’s pretty amazing, the new possibilities, and it is a testament of the importance of showing new architectural talent.” Previous winners have included SHoP, CODA, Interboro Partners, and Ball-Nogues, among others. The pavilion serves as a shade structure and platform for the annual summer “Warm Up” concert and performance series. Hy-Fi is expected to open in late June or early July.

Alan G. Brake