July 7, 2009
by Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP

P.S. 1.

Jessica Sheridan

There is no denying that a woolly mammoth appears to have landed in the P.S. 1 courtyard — especially with “Ice Age 3” topping box offices. This year’s Young Architects Program celebrates its 10th anniversary with afterparty, designed by New Haven- and Cambridge-based MOS. The installation is comprised of a series of “hut-like chimneys” covered on one side with a layer of “furry” palm-fiber thatching intended to reference Bedouin tents, according to the P.S. 1 press release.

While the structure from the outside appears hot in the midday sun, the chimneys provide passive cooling by siphoning air and creating a light breeze inside. This is the most successful attempt of the YAP projects that I’ve experienced to produce refreshing relief from the summer heat. The thatching also creates a sound barrier, something that is most important during the jam-packed Saturday Warm Up parties that feature DJs and live music.

The best part of the installation, in my opinion, is the small side room in the courtyard that is enclosed by concrete walls with one of the chimneys forming the ceiling. The coolest, shadiest part of the project, the oculus atop the conic shape focuses visitors’ attention to the sky and shadows cast by the sun. Fans of James Turrell will see the connection to Meeting, a “skyspace” on the roof of P.S. 1 where visitors can view the sky through an opening in the installation’s ceiling.

Unfortunately, there is no water feature this year. Perhaps with the torrential downpours we experienced in June there is no need, but for me it is always an exciting aspect of the YAP installations. That, along with the poor quality of the benches (I wonder if the soft construction will survive the summer), are my only criticisms. Overall, I highly recommend taking a trip to P.S. 1, both during Warm Up and the summer’s quieter times.


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