Posts tagged with "Temporary Architecture":

Placeholder Alt Text

MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program curators and alumni talk about its future

Less than a month after the $450 million expansion of MoMA, hints began circulating of the potential cancellation of MoMA PS1's Young Architecture Program (YAP). Begun in 1999 as the first collaboration between the merged institutions, Philip Johnson celebrated his birthday party that summer with a DJ booth commemorating the disco era, spinning Frank Sinatra's "My Way" as the program's initial gesture. For the next 20 years, the jury asked deans, critics, and editors to nominate 30 young firms to compete, selecting a shortlist of five to develop concepts for the annual outdoor pavilion in the Queens-based PS1's courtyard. "The two most open departments to collaboration from day one of the announcement were film and architecture," said PS1 founder Alanna Heiss. "We had a gigantic space that had been used for large-scale installations of sculpture and big outdoor performance programs. We'd done a summer before of a kind of trial Warm Up, which had been more successful than, shall we say, we wanted it to be; ie., we had crowds and crowds of people that we had to devise systems to control for safety. But to merge architecture with the beginning of Warm Up was just a dream." MoMA's chief architecture curator at the time was Terence Riley, who conceived of the initial framework. "An opportunity presented itself in that a couple proposed to MoMA in a meeting with Glenn Lowry [the museum's director] and myself a prize for young architects in honor of the husband's father," said Riley. "He was focused on young architects, and he was thinking that it would be a prize. I was wary and am now about museums giving out prizes. It was really at the spur of the moment that we flipped the conversation to this Young Architects Program. Probably more than any kind of a medal, getting the opportunity for a young architect to actually build something in New York City—which is a freestanding element rather than an interior—I thought this would be super exciting for the museum and for the cadre of young architects of the period." Marcel Breuer had built a temporary house in MoMA's garden in the 1950s, and the Serpentine Pavilion in London also began in 2000 with a much larger budget. The Venice Architecture Biennale's pavilions bear some resemblance, too. During his time as MoMA's chief architecture curator, Barry Bergdoll instigated the impressive Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling in 2008, building housing models in MoMA-owned adjacent lots, which pushed the temporary building program in another productive direction. But YAP was the first temporary pavilion program of its kind in the world. "The first winner was SHoP, and it set a very high standard," Riley said. "It immediately became super competitive, and what I think is amazing, people put so much effort into it, many of the installations stand out as being a turning point in a lot of careers for some amazing architects. You can make a list of them. It's pretty incredible." YAP became an influential model around the world, with MoMA organizing partner pavilions at the National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI) in Rome, with CONSTRUCTO in Santiago, Chile, at Istanbul Modern, and at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul. "The fact that it has a use was critical in the sense that it wasn't just architects scribbling and coming up with seductive forms, although they often did, but they did often have a focus and guidelines," Riley said of YAP. "That gave it some rigor and also some humor. This was for a DJ event. It was about fun; it was about enjoyment. It had it's own character, which was really great." AN asked past YAP winners and curators to comment on its value to their careers, to young architects, and to the field, and to suggest possible future directions for the program. AN: How would you evaluate the program as a platform for you or other young architects to develop their ideas and gain recognition? Florian Idenburg, SO-IL For SO-IL, our installation, Pole Dance, was career-defining. We cannot recognize enough the importance that the program has had on a generation of architects. This potential is something MoMA should not underestimate and should try to maintain as it finds its new form. After two decades, any temporary event starts to lose its potential. I am excited to see what comes next. Eric Bunge, nARCHITECTS The program has undoubtedly been a launchpad for architecture firms, including ours, but its more important impact has been as a petri dish for ideas. Pedro Gadanho, former MoMA curator of architecture and design In a context in which debt-ridden young architects probably have to enter corporate offices just to survive, YAP provided one of the few design opportunities in the U.S. in which a smaller scale, more experimental studio could try out architectural ideas outside the market. And with MoMA’s notoriety [renown] behind it, winning it surely provided a boost in visibility at [an] international level. In this sense, after such a history has been made, scrapping it sounds profoundly unfortunate for the architectural field in the States, as well as for MoMA’s role within it. Gregg Pasquarelli, SHoP founding principal This program was an incredibly important platform for SHoP and other young firms. Dunescape [in inaugural 2000] was one of the first projects that put SHoP on the map in a meaningful way, and we are very grateful to have been a part of MoMA’s incubator. It showed us the tremendous R&D value of designing and constructing exhibitions and temporary pavilions and informs the way that we work to this day. What we learned through Dunescape has proven scalable and enabled us to conceptualize a new way of working that we are hopeful will revolutionize the entire architecture and construction industry. Jenny Sabin, Jenny Sabin Studio Winning the 2017 MoMA and MoMA PS1 YAP competition marked a major transition point in my professional creative career. My built work up until that point had been largely experimental, indoors, and at the pavilion scale. The platform enabled me to push design research to an entirely different scale, to engage active environmental conditions, diverse publics, and to respond to and integrate unique public programs for Warm Up. I can't underscore enough the positive role and impact YAP plays in our field and practice. It was the most rewarding and meaningful project that I have completed to date. It was an incredible honor and the international exposure was mind-boggling. YAP elevated my practice to an entirely new level with new and ongoing projects all over the world. Tobias Armborst, Interboro Partners For Interboro the program was important, changing the trajectory of our work. The particular response we found to the question of temporary architecture really brought forward our interest in rethinking community engagement and developing architecture not only as a product but as an open process that can involve many actors. Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee, OBRA The YAP program was of course not perfect, the budget was too modest and so were the design fees—in our case our aim to adequately respond to the programmatic requirement of shade ended up being achievable only after being supplemented by a huge other fundraising effort on our part. In later years YAP had also become a franchise for MoMA, sprouting sideshows all over the world. Museums in Santiago, Istanbul, Rome, and Seoul had their own versions of YAP. Sometimes the work produced for these colonial outposts was interesting, but one can't help but wonder if it would not have been better to focus more concentratedly in advancing the conceptual intentions of the effort instead of multiplying it without any kind of contextual adjustment all over the globe. By 2006 when, thanks to YAP, OBRA got its chance to build Beatfuse! in the courtyards of the museum, one could already sense in the place a feeling of being under the intervention of some kind of colonial financial overlord. We were lucky enough to still enjoy the residual presence of the original "guerrilla" attitude which was alive and well in the people that ran and worked in the place: Alanna herself, a great champion of the daring and inspired; Brett Littman, the deputy director who saved our skin several times as we were trying to build Obra's overly-ambitious proposal; Tony Guerrero, the chief installer who—as I remember—used to keep a huge cage full of birds inside his office; and Sixto Figueroa, the congenial head of the Boricua-dominated PS1 shop, the place which, that spring, all of the sudden became our second home. How would you evaluate its success or limits as a model? Pedro Gadanho Its success depended entirely on the architect’s propositions, and how [over] time these could provide yet another design insight into a constricted site, namely by advancing more conceptual alternatives into low-budget construction systems, environmental inventions, and sometimes fascinating functional add-ons. Its limits were the usual ones for this type of initiative: that budgets were never as elastic as architects would love them to be. Terence Riley, former MoMA architecture and design curator, founding partner K/R Architects I definitely think it's a really good thing. Architecture is so abstract now: BIM modeling and so on—I just remember someone asking me, is that a photograph or a rendering? There's this lack of certainty, at least in the world of reproduction. The young architects who got involved in these projects, I am certain it's the first time they were on a job site in such an extended manner and felt the building up close in terms of materials and how things went together. In the beginning, it also addressed the local issue: the lack of younger people to build a building in New York City. It was amazing how much it expanded because of this hyper-competitiveness that seized that whole generation. Where should it go in the future, if it continues, or has the temporary pavilion framework been exhausted, as some critics have suggested? Or what should they do instead? Florian Idenburg Yes, a rethink is very timely. The wide range of issues that at this moment is leading to rage and despair on the streets of the world are real signals that there is an urgent need for real action and real change. The institutions that we brought into the world to “educate” the people—the museums, libraries, and universities—will have to decide. Either remain on the sidelines and continue to offer repose and shelter from the pressures of this much-needed realignment or become active participants. One can imagine the MoMA partnering with city agencies or nonprofits and developing a program in which they sponsor design fees for young architects to work on actual projects that have lasting benefits for people. One can imagine projects that take multiple years and are developed collectively, possibly using PS1 as a space for debate, work, and communication. Eric Bunge It should definitely continue, not only to maintain MoMA’s crucial role in catalyzing architectural ideas, but to continue engaging wider publics. The framework that is important to maintain is the constant renewal of the courtyard, not necessarily one that produces a pavilion. That’s just a problem definition. I think MoMA should find a way to bring back some of the simplicity of the early years, and address the increasingly [difficult] challenges faced by young architects:
  • Cover or reduce the insurance requirements. There were none when we built Canopy; we therefore made it as safe as possible.
  • Start the process much sooner, to allow for more time to design and build.
  • Encourage the architects to design ephemeral environments with the thousands of users in mind, as opposed to (only) creating objects.
Pedro Gadanho The inventiveness with which every participant’s solution showed new possibilities for that site showed that the model was the opposite of exhausted... Gregg Pasquarelli We’re big fans of the temporary nature of the pavilion framework. There’s something exciting and liberating about a project that exists only for a moment in time. The best pavilions have come from the freedom and invention of this approach. Jenny Sabin In taking this hiatus to reevaluate YAP, MoMA is in a unique position to reframe the value of architecture to the broader public and within our niche architecture communities. I don't think the temporary pavilion framework will ever be exhausted. That's like saying architecture has been exhausted. I think the platform needs to be evaluated, and refreshed with eyes on the pressing issues of our time. Important areas that should be examined and discussed include labor, budget, waste and sustainable materials, liability, context, and program—all of which are integral architectural constraints and parameters. Tobias Armborst I went to a discussion of former YAP winners at MoMA recently, and some of those questions were raised there: Is the pavilion still relevant given that there are so many competitions for temporary pavilions now? Is this still the right site? I came away from it thinking that in spite of the changing context, YAP still kind of works as a stage for young architects to present ideas. It’s great to see all these different responses to the site and the temporary nature of the project. However, one aspect in which the program could use an update is perhaps less a change in venue, program, or duration, but in rethinking the compensation. It seems like the program is still based on an outdated idea of self-exploitation on the part of architects, and the expectation of a lot of free labor on the part of students, volunteers, etc. Thinking about new ways of providing fair compensation for design labor (at least the labor of “volunteers”) I think would be [a] very timely update. I don’t mean to just ask for more money, but I think there could be a greater acknowledgment of how architecture is actually made, and by whom, in a rethinking of the compensation model. Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee Seeing the YAP program suspended is indeed not only sad but also a little bit ominous. In a way, we fear YAP's demise corresponds all too well with the less-than-absolutely-thrilling zeitgeist under which we all live these days in New York City. It makes it only too obvious that time has run out for art (and architecture) as a form of insidious and idealistic cultural guerrilla-warfare. We fancy that was the spirit under which PS1 was originally created by Alanna Heiss in 1971. Should they commission a more durable conversion of the courtyard? Eric Bunge A durable conversion would be a huge missed opportunity. Better a series of interesting potential small mistakes than a permanent potential big one. The emptiness and randomness of that courtyard is the cool counterpoint to MoMA’s sculpture garden. If only every other cultural institution had such a powerful void and the bravery to periodically fill it and empty it. So much of its value is its perpetual renewal. Pedro Gadanho I don’t think a "more durable conversion" substitutes the curatorial trajectory that YAP represented. That would be just another commission, which any museum does regularly to update spaces [to fill] to their needs. Gregg Pasquarelli I’m not sure it’s our place to comment on what form the program should take, but we look forward to seeing what they come up with next! Terence Riley A lot of programs in museums are dependent on one donor who is willing to subsidize it in perpetuity. People wanted to be involved with this because it was frankly a success, and having SHoP lead with such a strong project definitely set a fairly high bar. When I say it's still useful, that doesn't mean in an abstract sense—where that happens isn't really relevant. Could it have gotten stale in Long Island City at PS1? Certainly at this point I would find it hard to think that there was a huge amount of excitement, at least the kind of excitement that there was in the first decade, shall we say. It wasn't just among the young architects, it was also in the media it was covered nationally and internationally; and so on one hand, it's still relevant, on the other hand, a pause doesn't sound like a terrible thing. Things could be done in different ways. I did start the program, but I don't feel that the museum's doing something unethical or whatever. Maybe it's time for a pause. Jenny Sabin I think this requires discussion with previous YAP winners, nominators, students, the architecture community, and Warm Up partygoers, and that's exactly what MoMA is doing. I'm excited to see what happens next. Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee The successive curators of architecture at MoMA, Terence Riley, Barry Bergdoll, Andres Lepik, Pedro Gadagno, and Martino Stierli all seemed to have done their best to steer YAP toward a position of meaningful significance every year by proposing enlightened programmatic propositions: The project aims to explore and improve upon the quality of public space by implementing the elements of shade, water, seating, bars, and sustainability at this site... The commission is to design and realize a project for summer relaxation and interaction—offering the sort of space often denied to urbanites... After over a decade of successful YAP projects, we now focus the competition to encourage designs based on themes of sustainability, recycling, and reuse... This year, we are keen to consider new materials and materiality as a component of the portfolio (and, ultimately, the final design schemes)... We seek designs that are environmentally sensitive, provide elements of shade, water, and seating while also having [the] potential for fun! All these goals were of course very worthy and desirable, but also hardly in keeping with the revolutionary disruptive objectives with which MoMA first came into prominence in the early 20th century. To be fair, by the turn of the century perhaps the boat had also already sailed on that. Nonetheless, we daydreamed that YAP could have evolved at some point to become the vehicle for putting forward a more considered project for the future of architecture and the city using its public platform to publicize and disseminate a more progressive vision of the future of the built environment. Perhaps something other than urbanism via real estate speculation and architecture via marketing spectacle? Who knows? Notwithstanding these shortcomings, YAP was a valuable program that allowed a rare channel of expression for architects making their first foray into the discipline. As one of the beneficiaries of such initiative, we regret its discontinuation and hope for its return.
Placeholder Alt Text

Exclusive: MoMA and PS1's Young Architects Program is going on hiatus

MoMA and PS1 have disclosed to AN that the Young Architects Program (YAP) will be going on hiatus next year, following its 20-year anniversary this past summer. AN had heard from sources close to MoMA PS1 that the program might be shutting down, and upon following up with the Queens institution, Martino Stierli, the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the MoMA, provided the following statement:
"Following the 20th anniversary of the Young Architects Program (YAP), MoMA and MoMA PS1 have decided to place the program on a one-year hiatus. We remain deeply committed to supporting and recognizing emerging architectural talent. "We’ve already started to use the hiatus to bring together a diverse group of influential scholars and professionals, experimental architects and designers, and previous YAP winners to assess the program’s impact for the past two decades, explore its potential, and strategically chart its future. We look forward to sharing more news as we move along in this process."
MoMA could be moving toward a more durable, longer-term commission in its courtyard to serve its outdoor summer Warm Up music series, performance events, and art book fair, but that's only speculation. The Young Architects Program's origins go back to 1998, a year after the Frederick Fisher-designed renovation enclosed the PS1 entrance courtyard in concrete walls. That year, Vienna-based artist group Gelatin installed a scrappy "environment" in conjunction with PS1's first series of Warm Up summer concerts. Percutaneous Delights was composed of rough compositions of stacked refrigerators, discarded furniture, Po-mo inflatables, a graffitied shipping container, and an array of sprinklers to activate the space with what the P.R. at the time described as a welcoming hang-out for hot summer days. The following year, PS1 inaugurated its gradual absorption into the MoMA collective with a project by Philip Johnson, ever a follower of fashions (even if it led him, at times, in the direction of Nazism), who designed a Dance Pavilion DJ booth for the 1999 summer concerts as the first collaboration between the two institutions. It wasn't until 2000 that MoMA architecture curator Terence Riley formally established the Young Architects Program as an annual invited competition to promote innovative practices. The program was simple: provide shade, seating, and water for Warm Up. The first winner—if anyone can still remember the now 190-plus person office as a young startup—was SHoP Architects, which demonstrated the kind of digitally designed, people-friendly, carefully crafted form-making that would make them the go-to firm for urban development projects that need a warmer public face. The program frequently created opportunities for younger architects to demonstrate conceptual ideas percolating in academia on a small but meaningful scale. Early winners of the competition included Lindy Roy (2001), William Massie (2002), Tom Wiscombe (2003), nARCHITECTS (2004), Hernan Diaz Alonso (2005), and OBRA Architects (2006). Sometimes the projects leaned in the direction of conceptual follies that had less of a service component, and early projects at times demonstrated the limits of digital design as often as its potential. The initial budget was $25,000, later increased to $75,000, though it became common knowledge that most firms would spend more out of their own pockets and lean heavily on interns to build out the ideas. It was not an open competition: MoMA curators and advisors pre-selected a handful of designers and frequently favored well-connected circles from Ivy League schools and well-connected academics. The arc of the program traces a mini-curatorial history of MoMA, from Riley to Tina di Carlo and Peter Christensen, Barry Bergdoll, Andres Lepik, Pedro Gadanho, Sean Anderson, and Stierli, whose influences are reflected in the selections, along with changes in the profession. Little by little, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center became PS1 MoMA, then MoMA PS1. Some of the better-regarded highlights over the years included WORKac's 2008 P.F.1 (Public Farm One), which installed a demonstration urban farm that could survive the barren courtyard environment and created an ascending staircase of planter boxes on top of the gravel-covered space. SO-IL's Pole Dance (2010) engaged the playful possibilities of the program with colorful beach balls, overhead netting, hammocks, misters, and flexible PVC pipes, programmed with dance performances. On the most service-oriented end, Interboro Partners (2011) used their project as a demonstration of how PS1 could engage the surrounding neighborhood, building out the courtyard with a kit-of-parts based on the expressed needs of nonprofit organizations, businesses, and others in the community who they interviewed and donated components to at the end of the summer. Later projects by MOS (afterparty, 2009), Hollwich Kushner (Wendy, 2012), The Living (Hy-Fi, 2014), Andrés Jacque/ Office for Political Innovation (COSMO, 2015), and Jenny Sabin Studio (Lumen, 2017) increasingly verged in the direction of critical grotesques, parametric design, and environmental remediation experiments to varying degrees of success. Through it all, the surrounding neighborhood blew up in an astonishing, if predictable manner, in ascending towers of luxury apartments, demolishing the beloved 5 Pointz graffiti space in the process. If SHoP's origins as a young firm are hard to remember, it's even more difficult to retrieve the imperative that once made PS1 so improbable and ingenious a proposition in the first place—and the Young Architects Program an innocent delight—when its enterprising founder Alanna Heiss somehow convinced the Queens borough president to hand over a closed-down public school to a group of misfits from the SoHo/ Tribeca alternative space scene who proceeded to saw through floors as sculptures. Notably, one of the names that appears as a funder in the first decade of YAP, along with Bloomberg, Agnes Gund, and Isaac Liberman, is none other than real-estate-reality-show-specter-turned-president Donald J. Trump. How a contemporary art center can meaningfully respond to the current situation, if at all, could be a starting point for the continuation of the program or its eventual cancellation, but the Young Architects Program unquestionably pioneered a model of temporary urban pavilion imitated worldwide, activating public spaces that without major capital improvements or altering their historic character remained inhospitable and inflexible for contemporary needs.
Placeholder Alt Text

Extinction Rebellion sinks a house in the Thames for climate protest

Last Sunday, a sinking house in London’s River Thames became a trending meme-of-the-day, specially manufactured by sculptor and fabricator activists from Extinction Rebellion U.K. to imitate conditions under a global climate emergency. The stunt worked particularly well in the U.K. as it happened to fall on the same day as flooding in Derbyshire and Yorkshire in Northern England, a coincidence—like the Venice City Council voting against climate legislation as high tides bathed Louis Vuitton shoppers on St. Mark’s Square—likely to become increasingly more common. The image was that of a traditional peak-roofed brick-and-vinyl-sided house with a smokestack, half-submerged and heeling, as it floated down the river past the Tower Bridge. The actual prop was carefully constructed—a facsimile of a home made semi-real. Its brainchildren, sculptor Katey Burak and fabricator Rob Higgs, had been given a budget of $3,500 from Extinction Rebellion U.K.'s savvy arts group to make it a week before the early October week of global disobedience against the climate crisis, but it took a month to carefully craft the flooded house. Burak and Higgs constructed the likeness by hanging fiberglass panels on a metal frame, hooked onto a scaffolding attached to a life raft. It was carefully crafted ruse, with the aim of producing an image, Higgs said, of “our society drifting downstream one after the other.” After assembling the parts in Cornwall that morning—a peninsula on the southwest tip of Britain experiencing increasingly severe winter storms—they dropped the raft onto the edge of the river at Hermitage Wharf Community Moorings in Wapping, Londo, during low tide, lowering down parts and painstakingly assembling them so the facade hung six inches below the water level. Working periodically as boat builders, they wanted to nail the corner of the house to perfection to sustain the illusion. Then, with the life raft's outboard motor, the team headed downstream to get the shot in front of the Tower Bridge. They were looking for a bit more of a close-up than the one that ended up being the project’s signature, which shows skyscrapers rising on either side. The message is, in the end, is fairly self-explanatory. “To raise public awareness of the imminence of the rising sea level issue,” Higgs said. “Just because it’s a few millimeters now or 1.5 degrees, people don’t realize its imminent severity. We’re building up sea defenses rather than a deeper form of adaptation.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Stock-a-studio fashions a modular gym for Materials & Applications

Over the last century, the fitness club building typology has evolved from the introverted warehouse to an exhibitionist storefront, encouraging passersby to imagine themselves carrying out the newly-aestheticized forms of exercise on display. When invited to create an installation within a storefront gallery in the shadow of L.A.’s Dodger Stadium on Sunset Boulevard, one of three spaces in the city owned by Materials & Applications, the Michigan-based stock-a-studio developed a flashy gym that takes the concept of showing off one’s performance to a new level. The installation, evocatively titled [ a kit of these some parts ] x budget gym ], is a dense accumulation of shims, foam padding, tape, sandbags, vacuum-formed panels, pulleys, and ratchet straps framed by a neon green structural steel system. What at first seems sculptural is made apparently interactive, first by witnessing a few brave visitors curious enough to push and pull its loose elements, then by a sign near the door stating “the gym is available for public use by appointment.” Between now and January of next year, “the project will serve as a meeting point for exercise-based activities, such as weight-lifting, trainer-led workouts and as a hydration station and meet up point for hiking and biking groups,” according to stock-a-studio. While its assembly may recall the convoluted, “efficient” office gym in Woody Allen’s film Bananas (1971), the installation is far less prescriptive, inviting its users to appropriate its network of platforms and counterweights as they see fit. The installation is equally a study of finance, adaptation, and “the excessive production of sheer stuff.” Funded by the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, the materials for the project were either off-the-shelf or transported to the site by exploiting ambiguities in air travel regulations to come under budget, while demonstrating how an architectural project can be created ”out of loopholes in consumer cycles.” Additionally, the majority of the materials were not altered in the making of the installation, allowing them to be reconfigurable both on-site and at different locations while reducing waste in the long run. After the installation closes in January of next year, its elements will, in fact, be available for event-rental in Los Angeles and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Placeholder Alt Text

Plus Pool floats a light sculpture to raise awareness of NYC's water pollution problem

Nine years ago, New Yorkers were promised a floating, self-filtering pool on the East River, but all they've gotten so far is a floating light sculpture. Plus Pool Light has been installed, temporarily, in place of Plus Poola floating outline one quarter the size of the original proposal, consisting of LED lights that change color depending on water quality.  “It’s about having people look at something beautiful and coming here if they want to learn more,” said Archie Lee Coates IV, a partner at New York-based Playlab and a cocreator of the public pool proposal. But, as he also told The New York Times “It’s been incredibly difficult, painful and exhausting,” navigating the red tape and blockades associated with publicly funded projects in NYC.  Plus Pool (or +Pool) was conceived in a brainstorming session amongst Coates and his design friends Jeff Franklin, Dong-Ping Wong and Oana Stanescu back in 2010. The concept began with the frustration that New York City residents are constantly within walking distance of water, but live largely cut-off from it. The Hudson and East Rivers remain too polluted for safe swimming, and public beaches often take over an hour to get to. While waterways in several other major metropolises have been cleaned up in the interest of the public as well as tourists, like the Seine in Paris, New York’s rivers have been unswimmable for over 70 years. Plus Pool would use a state-of-the-art filtration system to help people reclaim their rivers for recreational use, and even strengthen campaigns to keep the waters clean.  In response to the passing of the Clean Water Act, many liquid assets in NYC were adopted as Superfund sites by the government, but sites like the Gowanus Canal remain in deplorable condition, as the city has yet to adequately update their storm surge systems—a system so inadequate that a 2018 NYT article titled “Please Don’t Flush the Toilet, It’s Raining,” drew viral reactions. All of that intake affects the ecosystem of the East River, and therefore the light show of the Plus Pool Light. When the quality is at an acceptable level, the LEDs shine turquoise-blue, but as sewage and bacteria levels increase, the lights shift to pink. This real-time quality indication comes from data collected by on-site sensors as well as an algorithm developed by researchers at Columbia University and the tech firm Reaktor While Plus Pool has been compared to other “Instagrammable” public projects like The High Line, this environmentally sensitive project may be more about addressing the physical effects of human degradation of the environment than reclaiming leisure space. The Light installation has already turned public attention towards the water by offering an unflinching visual representation of urban pollution, and in the era of Instagram and visual storytelling, potentially generating more attention for realizing the Plus Pool project.  Plus Pool Light will be on view off of Lower Manhattan’s Seaport District until January 3, 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

Hou de Sousa is the winner of this year's Flatiron Plaza Holiday Design Competition

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute have just announced the winners and finalists of the 6th Annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition. New York-based architecture, art, and design studio, Hou de Sousa, was chosen by a jury of ten designers, planners, and strategists for their project titled Ziggy, which will be installed in front of the iconic Manhattan skyscraper in time for the holiday season.  The installation will be composed of painted rebar and 27,000 feet of iridescent cord shaped into a brightly-colored winding form, resulting in a lightweight structure that frames views of the Flatiron District’s landmarks while doubling as seating for visitors.  “Hou de Sousa’s spectacular installation invites us to rethink how we interact with public space, and with one another,” said Deborah Marton, executive director of Van Alen Institute in a recent press release. “Through the clever use of transparent materials and open gateways, their design creates delightful and unexpected ways to connect with others.” Partners Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa have won numerous competitions over the past few years (hosted by Google, Friends of the High Line, Socrates Sculpture Park, and the Architectural League of New York, to name a few) for environmentally responsible work that “fosters public engagement and creativity,” in the words of Van Alen. The team partnered with Schlaich Bergermann Partner for structural engineering, and A05 Studio for steel fabrication.  The competition’s runner-up this year was Besler & Sons project Mini City Souvenir Plaza, which would have transformed the Flatiron Public Plaza into a “party scape of iconic buildings and experiences, populating the space with large-scale facades of nearby architecture.” The idea was that the facades surrounding the park would have been fabricated from post-consumer recycled plastics and reproduced in high detail.  Other projects that made it to the final round included Holiday Exchange by New Affiliates, Flatiron Portal by Only If, and Collective by Worrell Yeung Ziggy will be installed on the Flatiron North Public Plaza at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street as a part of the Partnership’s “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” programming. Weather permitting, it will be open to the public daily from November 18, 2019, through January 1, 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

This year's Finnish Burning Man pavilion will let visitors steam in the desert

Helsinki-based architects at JKMM are designing this year's Burning Man pavilion. In true Finnish style, the installation will be a full-fledged sauna. Each year, the organizers of Burning Man, the festival-slash-anarcho-communist gathering in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, ask designers to envision and execute singular works of art. For the festival's 2019 edition, organizers tapped JKMM and Sauna on Fire to design Steam of Life, a usable installation that's intended to energize participants with a good schvitz and introduce people to Finnish sauna culture. The circular Steam of Life will be built from timber, and its spiraling program is meant to gradually transition visitors from the harsh and arid conditions outside into the moist spa bliss within. According to JKMM, a curving passage will beckon the sauna-ready through a darkened area as a soft transition from the desert's brightness. The interior, meanwhile, is furnished with wooden benches and a stove. After the session, visitors will file into the shaded atrium at the center of the pavilion for a final cool down and relaxation. JKMM CEO Samppa Lappalainen selected architects Marcus Kujala, Hannu Rytky, and Päivi Aaltio from his firm to design the project, which will be built by Burners (Burning Man attendees) at the end of this month. JKMM's collaborators at Sauna on Fire are sponsoring a camp at Black Rock City—Burning Man attendees sort themselves out into camps—districts—organized around the burning effigy for which the gathering is named. Following this year's theme of "metamorphosis," Steam of Life's core values, according to its designers, are " [co-creation], volunteerism and inclusion of diverse participant backgrounds. Through self-organizing as an organization model, we aim to empower participants to learn new skills and foster a positive spirit for learning via decentralized decision-making via the build of a sauna installation to Black Rock City. Moreover, in the long run, this way of organizing could foster new types of civic engagement and even address social problems such as marginalization in society. Ultimately, we wish to distribute our learnt [sic] knowledge about the co-created content to a wider audience." But there will be no funny business along the road to a better society. A concept packet released by Sauna on Fire maintains it is not a "party camp" or "XXX," and notes that there should be no "wild sex orgy in the sauna." Keep it clean, y'all. The earnest design of Steam of Life will complement this year's Burning Man central temple. Designed by San Francisco architect Geordie Van Der Bosch, the temple references the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan. For those who have tickets, Burning Man begins next Sunday, August 25 and runs through September 2.
Placeholder Alt Text

PSU architecture students build wooden apple bin towers for Pickathon Music Festival

Now in its sixth year, Portland State University (PSU) School of Architecture students designed and built a repurposed and reusable, sky-high temporary performance venue for the Pickathon Music Festival in Happy Valley, Oregon. This year’s Treeline Stage, one of six at the festival, suggests an “orchard of towering trees,” taking inspiration from the structure of apple blossom but built from 160 wooden apple-harvesting bins. The project includes a series of seven towers, each made of roughly 15-to-30 harvesting bins and reaching a maximum of 40 feet tall. Positioned evenly around the site, the towers offer space for audio equipment, a backstage area, and space for food vendors and seating. During the day, sunlight drapes the towers and create imposing shadows as the sky moves. Toward sundown and at night, the towers glow from the inside with projected light and controlled colored LED lights that line the interior of the harvesting boxes. PSU School of Architecture faculty members Travis Bell and Clive Knights led the 40-plus students, alumni, and volunteers through the project’s design and construction. Their concept, “diversion design-build,” refers to mass-produced, construction-related materials that are diverted from their usually industrial purpose and then sent back for reuse following the end of the festival, like the apple harvesting bins. Previous Pickathon projects used materials like cardboard tubes (2015), wooden trusses (2017), and dimensional lumber (2016 and 2018), among others. This year, the harvesting bins were lent by a Pacific Northwest fruit producer and the wooden column structures and thousands of screws were reused from previous stage productions. The students’ inspiration for the overall site strategy and architectural design originated from seasonal and botanical patterns, as well as the number five. The towers have pentagonal clusters of five bins, purposefully stacked to suggest a collection of blossoms in a grove of trees. “A preponderance of five is prevalent in the life history of an apple," the students wrote in their designers’ statement about the project. "There are five sepals around the calyx, five petals in the flower, five stigma, pistils, and ovaries. Upon pollination, these ovaries develop into seed compartments, bearing five seeds, and each pod of five flowers has been stacked to create branches across the site. Composed as a tableau of blossoms, the orchard aligns at pivotal moments behind the stage and from each of the two entrances.”
Placeholder Alt Text

The third Antepavilion rises on the banks of Regent's Canal in London

Cycle or stroll along the Regent's Canal in northeast London and you'll find a new addition to a mad-hat menagerie of quirky architectural interventions populating the water's edge. The Potemkin Theatre, designed by London-based studio Maich Swift, is the third Antepavilion—a yearly competition run by the Architecture Foundation and Shiva Ltd. The Potemkin Theater sits atop a warehouse and looks north over the canal. At 27 feet tall, its prominent position means it can be seen from far down the canal, rising against the post-industrial landscape like a skinny timber Torre Velasca. However, the timber intervention only truly reveals itself as you get much closer; the slender yellow structure's canal-facing facade comes into view and displays a green checkerboard pattern made from gesso-treated canvas panels. Spanning three stories, the building will serve as a performance space, with the structure itself able to be used as a prop as well as a backdrop and theater gallery for performances. The pavilion's name comes from Grigory Potemkin, a Russian who in 1787 supposedly painted the facades of buildings in a Crimean village to impress Empress Catherine II upon her visit. Maich Swift adopted the same notion, taking interest in the way the internal structure can be hidden behind a lively and colorful frontage. "We thought early on that the structure could be accessed by both an audience and performers," said Ted Swift, who cofounded Maich Swift in 2016, speaking to AN. "We wanted the structure to be something that was as flexible as possible," added fellow co-founder Paul Maich. "Stuff like this is slowly disappearing in Hackney." Maich Swift was founded in 2016, with both architects coming from the London-based practice Caruso St. John. Along with Grigory Potemkin, the pair said they were inspired by Monsieur Hulot's home in Jacques Tati’s 1958 French film, Mon Oncle, drawing on the highly visual circulation space exhibited in the film. Behind the canvassed facade, a stair linking the pavilion's three levels is clearly visible between the laminated veneer lumber structural frame. The theater was assembled in just 25 days for a mere $30,000. "We knew we had to build it ourselves (with the help of volunteers) so it had to be practical," said Swift. Furthermore, the pavilion is designed to eventually be unbolted, though before that happens, a two-month-long program of performances, discussion, and events as been planned throughout August and September. In winning the Antepavilion competition, Maich Swift beat out 187 other entries. "Not only were the jury impressed by Maich Swift's quirky design and eclectic references, but we were particularly drawn to Potemkin's potential to become a new cultural venue," said Chloe Spiby Loh, who chaired the judging panel. "This showed the maturity of their approach, which projected a future for the pavilion beyond the commission." An opening party for the pavilion was attended by more than 1,000 people, though the structure has yet to be put through its paces as a performance space; capacity is for ticketed events is 180 people. "Hopefully we'll be surprised by the way people use it," said Swift.
Placeholder Alt Text

Behin Ha installs an undulating fabric installation in rural Ohio

Behin Ha Design Studio has created Coshocton Ray Trace, a site-specific installation in downtown Coshocton, Ohio, made of scrap material from a coated mesh fabric manufacturer. The project illustrates how a temporary installation can help a small community move towards the revitalization of its declining downtown. Behin Ha was founded by the New Jersey-based duo of Behrang Behin and Ann Ha. Together, they work on a wide range of design challenges from architecture, interiors, and installation projects to make “meaningful, creative interventions in the built environment.” The Pomerene Center for the Arts commissioned Behin Ha to design the temporary shade structure at the site of a burned-down hotel building near the Coshocton town square, coined artPark. Created and maintained by the Pomerene Center, artPark is a space to engage the community with the arts in areas affected by blight. According to the team’s website, the design aims to “work around and with the various interventions that had been made over the years at the artPark.” The installation was built with the help of community members and is now an unexpected, new point of attraction for the town. The construction jumper-orange fabric was sourced from Snyder Manufacturing, located in a nearby town. The fabric trimmings, which are typically recycled, were turned into the bright, tensioned ribbons contrasting between the existing balcony and the ground. Anchoring the fabric at predetermined points creates a twist in the fabric and the installation becomes more transparent at eye level and more opaque toward the south. The 650-square-foot installation will come down at the end of the summer and the fabric will be returned to Snyder’s and recycled back into their manufacturing process.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Snarkitecture's plastic beach makes waves in Chicago

Although much of the country, Chicago included, is being blasted by arctic air, that doesn’t mean that the beach is out of reach. From now until February 3, Chicagoans can leap into Snarkitecture’s The Beach Chicago, back in the states after serving its last tour of duty in Sydney, Australia. Interested visitors can find the 1.1-million-ball-beach installed inside of the Aon Grand Ballroom at the Navy Pier. The ballroom, designed by Charles Sumner Frost and completed in 1916, is an imposing location for The Beach, as the installation sits under an 80-foot-tall stone-and-steel dome. Visitors can take in the impressive view by lounging on a deck chair, or “floating” in the ocean of translucent antimicrobial balls. The 18,000-square-foot space on the pier has been transformed into a full “beach," complete with umbrellas, lifeguard stations, inflatables, lounge chairs, and the appropriate signage. Restaurants on the pier will be offering up complimentary “beach-themed” menus, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater will continue its run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Beach began as a commission for the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., as part of its annual Summer Block Party series. Snarkitecture responded to the prompt by flooding the museum’s Great Hall with colorless white balls, creating both a play space and meditation on the form of the balls themselves. The installation was so successful that it’s been touring the world as a series of pop-ups ever since, and returned (partially) to the National Building Museum as part of the Snarkitecture retrospective in 2018. The Beach Chicago was made possible with support from The Chicago Free For All Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, the Navy Pier Associate Board, and Hilton Worldwide.
Placeholder Alt Text

Waterfront installations brave the Toronto winter to "break the ice"

The third annual Ice Breakers Exhibition has returned to the Toronto’s downtown waterfront, dropping five public installations across the edge of Queens Quay West. Ice Breakers is a collaborative public art experience jointly presented by the temporary arts advancement nonprofit Winter Stations, Waterfront Business Improvement Area, and PortsToronto, the Toronto port authority. This year’s Ice Breakers presents four winning designs from a variety of international teams, as well as a student entry from Ryerson University. The theme for the 2019 exhibition was “Signal Transmission,” and appropriately enough, each installation evokes sending or receiving a message. All five of the public pavilions for Ice Breakers were installed on January 19 and will remain on display through February 24. Chroma Key Protest, from Andrew Edmundson, principal of the Toronto-based Solve Architects Inc, references the language of protest. Twenty-five wooden buoys have been clustered and given blank signboards in chroma key green, the same color used in green screens. By appropriating the mechanisms of protesting but leaving the “signs” a color that can be anything, Edmundson invites visitors to project their own grievances onto the installation. Stellar Spectra, from the Toronto-based duo of Rob Shostak and Dionisios Vriniotis, is split into two occupiable pavilions. Each captures and refracts starlight through the dozens of tubes that make up the structure of Stellar Spectra, flooding each of the “lighthouses” with warm and cool-colored light. Connector, from the Hamburg, Germany–based Alexandra Griess and Jorel Heid, at first glance resembles a jumble of wires. That’s intentional, as the designers sought to reference the birds’ nests of communication wires that arose at the beginning of long-distance transmissions. Each of the mouthpieces corresponds to another, but participants will have to hunt for the appropriate end if they want to have a conversation. Tweeta-Gate, from Eleni Papadimitriou and Stefanos Ziras, founders of the Athens, Greece–based Space Oddity Studios (SOS), invites visitors to embark on an audiovisual journey. The series of yellow gates, made from painted wood and joined by metal connectors, are cut into shapes reminiscent of architectural styles from all over the world. Each gate is adorned with bells that can be activated by passersby, or the sway of the wind and natural elements. Tripix, the student submission from Ryerson University, seems purpose-made for the Instagram crowd. The faceted, panelized structure uses a high-contrast color scheme, red-on-white, to draw attention to its central pillar. An appropriate scheme, considering the goal of the exhibition is to get Toronto residents off the couch and into the snow.