Launch Slideshow

HWKN's Wendy Opens To The Public

HWKN's Wendy Opens To The Public

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    John Gendall

    Wendy peeks out from behind the trees on July 1, the day of her public unveiling.

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    John Gendall

    “I use the post office across the street. I actually went to this school—P.S.1—when it was still an elementary school. I graduated in 1962. I read a story about the young people who designed it, and that’s what made me come in and visit. It’s so great whenever people do something that’s beautiful, but also functional. It’s showing possibilities, so I just wanted to check it out. It’s great to walk down the street and go somewhere that’s cool. The cooling system works great. Little kids are going to have a good time. The fact that it’s cleaning the air—I thought that is great. I’ve seen a few other installations here like the one when they had chickens outside [WORKac’s 2008 installation, P.F.1].” —Shirley Mitchell

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    John Gendall

    “I’ve seen it from scratch. I’ve seen everything, from the first little nail they put on the ground, and it’s, wow, amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. Not only that, you can actually breathe better. I live in the Bronx, so I notice it—this air is way different. Everybody loves it—everybody loves it. The kids think it’s like a pool party. This is my second year working here, and usually the temperature in the yard is even hotter than the street. This year, this thing is like a giant A/C. It actually cools you down. It’s refreshing. They made my summer better. They came in here with computerized drawings, and you know what: They made this thing exactly like those pictures. People always tell me I’m infatuated with this thing. And you know what? I actually am. I’ve seen it come up out of nothing. It’s awesome.” —Juan Rivera, MoMA Security

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    John Gendall

    “We had heard this extracted pollution from the environment, so on a scorching day like today, it’s a wonderful respite. We’ve been enjoying these shady areas, and if you dip your hand in the terraced pool, it’s really very cooling. It can do wonders for your temperature.” —Natasha T.

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    John Gendall

    “It’s cool. It feels misty everywhere. I stuck my hands in the pool and it felt good, especially on a hot day. I feel like I just want to jump into the pool. I just run into the fountain and got wet. That’s what Wendy is meant for—to get wet.” —Flora T., age 7

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    John Gendall

    "I work in the neighborhood, but this is my first trip to the museum. It’s great. The misters are really nice—it feels great—but it’s also art. I like the shape. It’s like a piñata star. On a day like today, it’s so nice to get cooled. The environment is really important to me. Cities get so hot. We need to really consider things like green roofs to help offset that heat. I don’t know too much about modern art—I know the big names like Van Gogh—but this is really new to me, this kind of industrial art. It’s really great. They should just leave it here permanently." —Mark Bansfield

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    John Gendall

    "It’s gorgeous. It’s so much fun. We live nearby, so it’s been exciting to see it get built. My sons, who are three, wake up from their nap in the afternoon and beg to come to PS1. It’s something big and constructed in our backyard. They would peek in through the holes in the courtyard wall and see the different things going up—first the scaffolding, then the fans, so it’s great to see it finished." —Gina Neff

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    Young visitors waiting to go outsdide and see Wendy up close.

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    John Gendall

    “It’s raining, mommy.”

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    John Gendall

    “It’s so cold, like winter.”

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    John Gendall

    Visitors enjoyed Wendy's misting arms on the 95 F day.

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    John Gendall

    Others cooled off in the pools.

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    John Gendall

    Or under the water jets.

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    John Gendall

    HWKN principals Marc Kushner, AIA, and Matthias Hollwich stand next to the project description at Thursday's press preview.

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    John Gendall

    Kushner and Hollwich, inside Wendy, explaining the fans and assorted hardware that power the installation's cooling and water features.

Last Thursday, ARCHITECT dropped into Wendy’s press opening, where MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA curators Barry Bergdoll and Pedro Gadanho, and HWKN principals Marc Kushner, AIA, and Matthias Hollwich introduced us to their new leading lady. The Thursday comments targeted architects, addressing the titania nanoparticle spray, the history of the Young Architects Program, and approaches to sustainability. But two days later, when the temperature registered 95 degrees, ARCHITECT returned to the courtyard to gauge public response.

"I like it because it’s so blue, and it’s this interesting tetrahedron shape—and it’s so shaded," said Jane Wilson, who was visiting from Oxford, England. "It makes me think of someone like Anish Kapoor because it’s active. To be honest, the fact that it’s designed by architects instead of artists is what makes it most interesting to me. Totally. Mostly, I just don’t think they’ve got the skills that engineers and architects have got. I like art that shows skill, from whatever period. Sometimes art just shows a vague idea, and we all know there’s lots of vague ideas running around the world. This seems like it has skill."

Some visitors had visited previous Young Architects Program pavilions in MoMA PS1's courtyard. "I remember a couple of years ago, PS1 had architecture that was supposed to be self-sustaining and greening. It was a whole green thing," visitor Reggie Johson said. "So it seems, without knowing anything about this thing—I see the fans, I see the water—it seems to be something talking about regeneration. That’s what I think, at least." He's right, of course, Wendy's blue skin is coated with a titania nanoparticle spray that neutralizes air pollution.)

Other visitors just happened upon the opening. "We were just across the street, but my nephew had to use the bathroom, so we came in here. He was so jaded through the whole museum, but as soon as we got out here, he saw there was water, and it got him interested," visitor Kim Hafner said. "He probably has no idea what he’s seeing, but he’s having fun. I love that it’s functional, and that it’s not just a piece."

To read more public reactions, click through the slideshow above. Wendy will be on view until Sept. 8.