Young Architects Program

Liquid Sky by Ball-Nogues

June 27, 2007—October 1, 2007


Liquid Sky


Photo by Mark Lentz

Courtesy P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center


Liquid Sky


Photo by Stephen Goralnick

Courtesy P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

The Museum of Modern Art and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center present an installation in P.S.1's outdoor courtyard by Los Angeles-based firm Ball-Nogues, led by Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues, winner of the eighth annual MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program. The competition invites emerging architects to propose an installation for the courtyard of P.S.1 in Long Island City, Queens. The objective of the Young Architects Program is to identify and provide an outlet for emerging young talent in architecture, an ongoing mission of both MoMA and P.S.1. This year, five finalists selected by a closed nomination process were asked to present designs for an installation at P.S.1 with the allotted project budget of $70,000.

The winning installation, Liquid Sky, designed by Ball-Nogues (Los Angeles), will be on view in the P.S.1 courtyard beginning June 27, 2007. Liquid Sky will immerse the viewer in kaleidoscopic patterns of color created by sunlight filtering through an array of translucent, tinted Mylar petals that resemble blossoming flowers of stained glass. Together, the petals form a tensioned surface that reconfigures the horizon, cresting above the walls of the P.S.1 courtyard. Six towers constructed from untreated utility poles support the surface while providing discrete spaces at their base for relaxing on enormous community hammocks designed by artist Sheila Pepe. For the adjacent outdoor gallery, the team has designed the Droopscape, a slack catenary belly that shifts and flows in the wind, supported by drench towers that periodically soak visitors below with their gravity-induced tip buckets. The winning proposal was designed in collaboration with Paul Endres of Endres Ware Architects/Engineers and the Product Architecture Lab at Stevens Institute. As in past years, the project will serve as the venue for Warm Up, the popular music series held annually in P.S.1's courtyard.

In addition to Ball-Nogues, the five finalists are Gage/Clemenceau Architects (New York), IwamotoScott (San Francisco), Mos (Cambridge-New Haven), and Ruy Klein (New York). An exhibition of these designs, organized by Barry Bergdoll, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator, and Linda Roby, Department Coordinator, Department of Architecture and Design, will be presented in MoMA's Louise Reinhardt Smith Gallery, from June 27 to September 8.

"Ball-Nogues's exuberant project, Liquid Sky, combines the zest of a joyful event space with rigorous research into new materials and digital fabrication," states Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art. "Low-tech assembly is joined with experiment in the latest cutting and fabrication techniques gleaned from the sailing industry. They posit a project whose research will hold resonance and application long after this summer's Warm Up series. Liquid Sky is a rich palette of atmospheric effects and brilliant color with an undertone of the ephemeral circus spectacle."

According to P.S.1 Director Alanna Heiss, "To hear five great, young architects present their dream of a temporary pavilion is to fall in love five times. The winner, Ball-Nogues, from the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, gave us a Fellini-esque project: a circus tent whose canvas has been replaced with phosphorescent scales of hallucinogenic colors. This astonishing but low-tech creation cannot fail but to delight viewers of all ages." Ball-Nogues principals, Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues, describe the experience of their installation: "When you step into Liquid Sky, you've set your mind and body free from the weight of the urban environment and are submerged into an atmosphere of soothing exhilaration, subtle stimulation, and inspirational calm. As the installation changes from day-to-day, even hour-to-hour, your expectations create your own unique experience."


Selection Process

For the Young Architects Program 2007 selection process, experts in the field of architecture, including architects, curators, academics, and magazine editors, nominated the finalists from a pool of approximately forty candidates that included both recent graduates and established architects experimenting with new styles or techniques. The five finalists presented proposals to a panel composed of Glenn D. Lowry, Director, The Museum of Modern Art; Alanna Heiss, Director, P.S.1; Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art; Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator, Department of Media, The Museum of Modern Art; and Peter Reed, Senior Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs, The Museum of Modern Art. Antoine Guerrero, P.S.1's Director of Operations, served as chief adviser to the panel. This year marks the tenth summer that P.S.1 has hosted a combined architectural installation and music series in its outdoor galleries. The inaugural project was an architectural installation in 1998 by an Austrian collective, Gelatin. In 1999, Philip Johnson's DJ Pavilion celebrated the historic affiliation of P.S.1 and MoMA. The previous winners of the Young Architects Program are SHoP/Sharples Holden Pasquarelli (2000), ROY (2001), William E. Massie (2002), Tom Wiscombe / EMERGENT (2003), nARCHITECTS (2004), Xefirotarch (2005), and OBRA (2006).


Benjamin Ball grew up in Colorado and Iowa where his mother's involvement in theater proved influential. While studying for his degree in architecture at SCI-Arc in Southern California, Ball logged stints at Gehry Partners and Shirdel Zago Kipnis. Upon graduation, he sought work as a set and production designer for films (including The Matrix series) as well as music videos and commercials with such influential directors as Mark Romanek, Mark Coppos, and Tony Scott. His experience ranges from work on the Disney Concert Hall and small residential commissions for boutique firms to complex medical structures and event design. In his current collaboration with Gaston Nogues, Ball is exploring the intersection of architecture, art, and product design through physical modeling and the use of digital and traditional forms of production. A major goal of his design endeavors is to create experiences; because of this, he feels "a building that is not built is not architecture."

Gaston Nogues was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before moving to Los Angeles at age 12. Frequently accompanying his father to his job as an aerospace engineer, Nogues acquired a fascination with the hands-on process of building. An honors graduate in architecture from SCI-Arc, he moved directly from school into a position at Gehry Partners where he worked in product design and production. He remained there until 2005, except for a one-year stint in 1996 as an assistant curator at the fine arts publishing house Gemini GEL. In his current collaboration with Benjamin Ball, Nogues is focused on fabricating what has been visualized.

Structural Engineer

Paul Endres, founding partner of Endres Ware, has combined the practice of architecture and engineering for over two decades. His collaborations with planners, architects, landscape architects, and artists has led to such innovative projects as the sail-like dome for the San Diego New Public Library, the Nansha Science Museum, and the James Turrell Skyplane. Endres's work has received several awards including a Green Building Award and SEAONC's 2006 Excellence in Structural Engineering Award in Landmark Structures. Endres has received degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of California, Berkeley and is currently an adjunct faculty member at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

The 2007 Young Architects Program is sponsored by Bloomberg.

Generous support is provided by Riverhouse - One Rockefeller Park, Sheldrake Organization, Ian Schrager, National Endowment for the Arts, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, and Con Edison.

Additional funding is provided by George and Mariana Kaufman.