Beyond Buildings


Wendy Has Landed: Only Scaffolding Will Save Us

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Image credit: HWKN.

The death star has landed. Or at least it will, this summer, as the winner of the P.S.1/M.o.M.A. competition to design a party space/entrance treat for its Queens location. Its name is Wendy, so maybe it is supposed to be a friendly alien body, unless it is named either for Rupert Murdoch’s wife or the obesity-promoting products of a fast food chain. Whatever the case, its spikiness will offer a contrast to previous, more touchy-feely entries.

WORK Architecture, for instance, installed a petting zoo and other agricultural accoutrements, last year Interboro laid out ping-pong tables under awnings, and others have just made the concrete courtyards through which you navigate to the renovated schoolhouse softer and more accommodating. HWKN is eschewing the idea of spreading entertainment through the whole area in favor of making an object. It is blue, and will be covered with a “smog eating fabric” that will supposedly negate the pollution of over 250 cars during the course of the summer. I don’t doubt the science on that, but remember that this is miniscule amount of pollution, and I must say it reminds me of certain Decosterd and Rahm projects in which they claimed that the paint they were using would make you fall in love or the lighting would stimulate altitude sickness.

Image credit: MAD architects.

Wendy’s main point seems to be an object, though it has no particular function other than spouting water off some of its spikes, I assume to cool down summer visitors. The functional part of the program finds a home in the scaffolding that will surround the sculpture. There, performers and DJs will perch, lighting can be attached, and whatever other equipment that is necessary to activate the space will find a place to clamp on.

I should note in passing that HWKN, a seemingly neutral name that is actually the initials of partners Marc Kushner and Matthias Hollwich, represents the cutting edge of how young firms see themselves. They claim that they are not just architects, but also “inventors,” and are involved not just with architecture and urbanism, but also “branding and development.” In Koolhaasian fashion, they espouse an “optimistic design approach.” This is not just words: they helped found the site Architizer, and their projects, few of which seem to have been realized, include party pavilions and some product design.

Out of this approach comes this conceptual thing, though I also note an amazing similarity to a project we presented at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2008, as part of the Uneternal City exhibition: it was a massive alien craft, created by MAD Studio, and intended to land in cities around the world as a container for all things Chinese.

I am not sure why the New York version of this object is needed, other than to catch your attention. I have long been interested in the potential of scaffolding, which can create a space in-between the private realm of buildings and undefined public space, which represents the act of making (or un-making), and which is the backbone of the temporary constructions and festivals that are the sites of much more creativity than you can find in the discipline in architecture.

So I actually hope they run out of money over there at P.S. 1 and build just the scaffolding, with room to spare without Wendy, and let the party begin.


Comments (7 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 2:27 AM Friday, June 15, 2012

    The whole architecture as branding concept makes me want to vomit. It's not what architecture is supposed to be about. Seems like some architects didn't get the note that Gehry is over.

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 5:25 PM Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Report this as offensive

  • Posted by: Jeff P | Time: 11:57 AM Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    I'm going to take a guess and say that all the above comments were made by the same person, or people working in the same firm

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 4:05 PM Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Good read on how you think you invented the idea of "star" and "scaffolding"

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 3:52 PM Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Angry. What did Wendy do to you?

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 2:24 PM Friday, April 13, 2012

    I am sorry... You feel that way... I am happy that you are interested in least. Next time you do it better.

    Report this as offensive

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 2:38 PM Thursday, February 23, 2012

    Wow, haters got to hate !

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About the Blogger

Aaron Betsky

thumbnail image Aaron Betsky is the director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, and in 2008 he was director of the 11th Venice International Architecture Biennale. Trained as an architect at Yale, he has published more than a dozen books on art, architecture, and design and teaches and lectures about design around the world. Aaron worked for Frank O. Gehry and Associates and Hodgetts & Fung Design Associates as a designer, taught for many years at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and between 1995 and 2001 was curator of architecture and design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From 2001 to 2006 he was director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.