P.S.1 MoMA's Young Architects Winner

Just when the winter blues really starts to get me down, MoMA/P.S.1 announces the winner of the Young Architects Program and summer doesn’t seem quite as far away.  That’s because the grand prize is the chance to design P.S.1′s outdoor courtyard, used all summer long for their jam-packed Warm Up parties in Long Island City, Queens. This year’s winner is the Brooklyn-based urban design and planning firm, Interboro Partners, who take a decidedly minimalist approach in all their work. Many past winners have wowed the judges with elaborate conceptual pieces or striking visuals, but Interboro snagged the top prize with a simple overhead canopy made of tautly pulled rope that reaches from one end of the courtyard to the other.

Barry Bergdol, MoMA’s Philip Johnson chief curator, cited Interboro’s affinity for creating “elegant and unpretentious spaces with common materials. Their work has a modesty and a commitment quite at odds with the luxury and complex computer-generated form that has prevailed in the city in recent years.”

For the competition, Interboro looked at two things: the raw shape of the P.S.1 courtyard and the needs of the surrounding community. Instead of breaking up the space with columns to support an overhanging structure, the pattern created by the strung rope is not only self-supporting, but it highlights the courtyard’s “irregular, seven-sided polygon” shape created by the intersecting street corners that sandwich the museum.

When it came time to choose materials, Interboro went out into neighborhood, to schools, day care centers, greenmarkets, libraries and the YMCA – to name just a few – and asked each one, “Is there something you need that we could design, use in the courtyard during the Warm Up and then donate in the Fall once the Warm Up is over?” The result is an eclectic collection of objects, including benches, mirrors, ping-pong tables and flood lights, “things we never would have thought to include, but that both enhance the Warm Up’s program and strengthen MoMA P.S.1′s ties to its neighborhood.