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PS1 unveils otherworldly design for courtyard

MoMA PS1 unveiled this sharp, new design for its courtyard pavilion this summer. It was designed by architecture firm HWKN and was selected by a jury as part of the Young Architects Program. Image courtesy of HWKN
TimesLedger Newspapers

Visitors to MoMA PS1 will be seeing stars this summer. The art institution announced on Feb. 8 that its courtyard will feature a giant star-shaped installation called “Wendy” as part of its annual Young Architects Program.

The installation, made of sky-blue nylon fabric, will sit in the center of PS1’s large courtyard and engage passers-by with bursts of cool air, music, mists and water cannons shooting from its spikey arms. The New York City-based design firm HWKN submitted the winning proposal.

“It’s summertime—we wanted to make sure that the architecture really spoke to the people who were coming to the courtyard for a good time,” said Marc Kushner, partner at HWKN. “It’s something that would excite people and get people thinking about the potential of buildings around them.”

Wendy also boasts a number of environmentally friendly design elements. The fabric is treated with a special “titania nanoparticle spray” which neutralizes airborne pollutants from cars. The design of the structure maximizes the surface area that will come into contact with the air.

According to HWKN, over the summer the installation will clean the air of pollutants equal to 260 cars being taken off the road.

The installation will be open to the public on June 28 and be up for the 10 weeks after that. It will be a particular draw during PS1’s weekly “Warm Up” events each Saturday of the summer, where visitors can enjoy concerts and DJ sets in addition to the museum’s regular exhibitions.

“This time we have a very concentrated object, a powerful architectural gesture that is contained in its imprint, but manages to touch the different courtyards,” said Pedro Gadanho, curator of the Deparment of Architecture and Design for MoMA. “It also has a scale that you’ll see from the train line or highway, so we’ll have people outside asking themselves, ‘What is this?’”

Last year’s winners, Interboro Partners, created the massive canopy installation “Holding Pattern,” which featured recycled objects including benches, ping-pong tables and floodlights strung overhead. The year before the courtyard showcased “Pole Dance,” from SO-IL, a 16-by-16-foot grid of 30-foot poles connected by bungee cords.

“MoMA gives architecture a platform to speak to a really wide audience, and gives architects a chance to speculate and dream about the potential of what we do everyday,” said Kushner. “Addressing environmental issues beyond the issues of our own project and on the city as an ecosystem is a really exciting opportunity — and, of course, having a really awesome time doing it.”

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