The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and MoMA PS1 have a new woman, and she is big, blue, and a rabid audiophile. Her name is Wendy, and “she” is the new temporary installation opening this Sunday in the outdoor courtyard of MoMA PS1, where she will serve as the backdrop for the Long Island City, N.Y., institution’s Warm Up 2012. Designed by Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner, AIA, of New York-based firm HWKN, Wendy was the winning entry in the 2012 Young Architects Program (YAP). Now in its 13th year, the program is a juried competition dedicated to showcasing the work of emerging firms. But the program is not without its strictures: Entries must provide seating, shade, and water, as well as address sustainability and recycling.
Wendy is constructed out of blue nylon fabric supported by a 70-foot-square and 45-foot-tall scaffold. The fabric fills this volume in the form of blue spikes, radiating from a central point, giving the not universally beloved impression of a multipointed star enclosed in an open, rectangular prism; each arm is programmed to blow cool air, play music, spray mist, or shoot a water cannon. The nylon itself is treated with a titania nanoparticle spray that, according to the firm and the museum, neutralizes air pollution: It is expected that the air-scrubbing that Wendy will achieve over the course of the three months it is on display will be equivalent to taking 260 cars off the road.
“It is iconic, but with a twist,” said Pedro Gadanho, a curator in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, of Wendy when the YAP’s winning entry was announced in February. “By combining off-the-shelf materials and scaffolding systems with the latest cry in nanotechnology it is able to produce both an out-of-the-box ecological statement and a bold architectural gesture.”
Barry Bergdoll, MoMA’s Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, concurred, saying, “[HWKN’s] design is at once based in emerging science of materials related to environmental cleansing … but also on a zany quest for a space that is simply good fun. Even passengers on the elevated 7 train will feel compelled to head to MoMA PS1 to experience Wendy and figure out what in the world it can possibly be all about.”
Wendy will be open through Sept. 8.