Ian Volner

A friend who worked for several years at PS1—the contemporary annex of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Long Island City, Queens—reports how, during her years running the front desk, European tourists would regularly approach her and ask in an assortment of colorful accents, “Where is the Warm Up?” The fact that they would sometimes put this question to her during the dead of winter meant that she was forced, not infrequently, to disappoint them.

Warm Up, PS1’s summer-only outdoor party series, takes place in the concrete-walled forecourt of the former schoolhouse that houses the museum. Since 2000, the dance-focused DJ sets have had a sequence of dramatic backdrops thanks to the Young Architects Program (YAP), an annual competition that challenges emerging designers to re-imagine the functional and formal potential of the space. From New York–based practiced MOS Architects’ parade of woolly mammoth-like funnels, to Brooklyn’s Interboro Partners and their assortment of urban amenities, the four-month-long installations have given the hordes of Warm Up attendees a suitably eccentric setting for their divers bumpings and grindings.

This year’s Warm Up got underway last weekend under a colorful netting created by YAP 2016 honorees Escobedo Soliz Studio. Working within PS1’s modest budget of around $70,000, the Mexico City–based duo of Lazbent Pavel Escobedo Amaral and Andres Soliz Paz intended their winning proposal—entitled “Weaving the Courtyard”—to be a device for “generating new and different atmospheres,” as they’ve explained it. Cross-strung some 10 feet overhead in a mesmerizing, layered pattern reminiscent of a piano soundboard, the neon yellow, red and blue ropes are moored to the holes in the original concrete formworks. Casting shade in different places at different times, they complement the programmatic divisions of the space below, including a beachy terrace filled with sand and a shallow pool lined with a wooden bench.

Ian Volner
Ian Volner

Hardly the most daring structural or conceptual assemblage to appear at PS1—previous installations have included a fully-operational hydroponic farm (from WORKac, in 2008) and an air-cleaning habitable nylon starburst (from HWKN in 2009)—this year’s winner nonetheless makes for a festive environment that seemed, on Warm Up‘s opening day, to keep the crowd happy. Frolicking in the pool, concert-goers took a break from the dancing to cool off and watch the rippling shadows of the water play against the late afternoon light on the concrete walls; on the makeshift beach on the north side of the space, others sat with beers and grub from PS1’s own M. Wells restaurant. The headliner on Saturday evening, local favorite DJ Premier, played a mixed set of '90s and contemporary hip hop, and as day turned to dusk the colors of the complicated cord-work overhead seemed to grow only more vibrant in the early-evening glow.

One attendee seemed especially caught up in the excitement. In a side-room off the main space, where Escobedo Soliz’s only intervention was a modest wooden bench, an English visitor whose speech seemed only slightly slurred was attempting (unsuccessfully) a series of handstands—which he didn’t scruple to stop when this reporter tried to sit down at the far end. That’s Warm Up for you: a little fun, a little sun, and a little half-exposed midriff while toppling over backwards.

Ian Volner

Visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery for more information about “Weaving the Courtyard.