On Wednesday, New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) named David Benjamin this year's recipient of the Young Architects Program, an annual competition to create an installation in the museum's Long Island City location, PS1. Benjamin's firm, New York-based The Living, will be the next to take over this courtyard, and transform it into a outdoor space fit for the museum's summer concert series, "Warm Up."
The premise of this competition is simple: create a usable public space in New York city summer heat. But how these projects have evolved says something interesting about how that idea has changed in the last decade and a half. A competition that began with projects for a function has morphed into a canvas of experimentation for urban design.
Prior to the official launch of the Young Architects Program, there were two installations in the space, by Philip Johnson in 1999 and Gelatin the year before.
The program was officially kicked off in 2000 with the "Dunescape" project by New York-based SHoP Architects.
Roy in New York designed "subWave" for the 2001 program. The space included a "tropical climate" created with fans and mist, a giant ocean picture, as well as several pools and hammocks.
In 2002, William Massie of New York built PVC tube-walls for his "Playa Urbana/Urban Beach" installation. The walls surrounded three phosphorescent plastic and foam pools.
Los Angeles architect Tom Wiscombe, AIA, created "Light-Wing" in 2003. The project included a cell-like roof structure that doubled as nighttime lighting.
For their 2004 installation, "Canopy," New York's nArchitects constructed a crisscrossed structure from fresh green bamboo, which was designed to change color to tan over the course of the installation.
In 2005, L.A.'s Xefirotarch designed "SUR," which the firm describes as "the flair of a circus, the ambience of a play ground." The installation included a fiberglass and rubber base and a latex- and spandex-covered aluminum frame.
OBRA Architects' 2006 installation, "BEATFUSE!," built plywood and polypropylene mesh arches over the courtyard. The New York-based firm also created three zones, referred to as the caldarium, tepidarium, and frigidarium.
Los Angeles's Ball-Nogues Studio used colored Mylar for their installation, "Liquid Sky," in 2007. The panels cast colored designs over the vibrant hammocks below.
In 2008, Work Architecture Company designed "P.F.1. (Public Farm One)," which included cardboard-tube planters containing 51 types of fruits, veggies, and herbs. As Linda Hales wrote in ARCHITECT, the installation "[shifted] the summer design paradigm from idyllic urban beach to aerial farmer's market."
New York-based MOS installed "afterparty" in the PS1 courtyard in 2009. The firm created a cluster of enclosures with a textural outside designed for cooling down visitors.
New York's SO-IL created "Pole Dance," which included a pole and netting overlay designed to ebb and flow with contact, in 2010. The installation's movement was also translated into sound in the courtyard and on an accompanying website.
Interboro Partners took over the space in the summer of 2011 with "Holding Pattern." The Brooklyn firm draped ropes across the unusually-shaped courtyard, and placed objects like mirrors and ping-pong tables that would later be donated; MoMA PS1's website notes that this was the first installation to encompass the whole courtyard under one structure.
The New York-based firm HWKN installed "Wendy" in 2012. The bright blue 5,000 square foot structure was made of nylon sprayed with titania nanoparticle, which was designed to clean the air to the tune of removing 260 cars.
Last summer, the Ithaca, New York-based firm CODA built "Party Wall," a steel and wood structure that was designed to spell out "WALL" when the sun hit it.
View more details and images of the Young Architect's Program in ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.
This post has been updated.