Playa Urbana/Urban Beach by William E. Massie
June 30, 2002—August 30, 2008
William E. Massie
Playa Urbana/Urban Beach
Photo by Eileen Costa
Courtesy P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center
Glenn D. Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art, and Alanna Heiss, Director of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, announced that William E. Massie of New York has been selected as the winner of the Third Annual MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program, a competition that invites emerging architects to build projects at P.S.1 in Long Island City. 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. The contestants were instructed to make the best use of P.S.1’s outdoor courtyard and available materials within the allotted project budget, which is $50,000. Massie will realize his proposal for the project Playa Urbana/Urban Beach, which incorporates wading pools and shade elements in a refuge from the urban summer. As in past years, the project will become the centerpiece of Warm Up, P.S.1’s popular music series held annually in the courtyard. Massie’s project is expected to be complete by late-June.
Terence Riley, Chief Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, comments, “Bill Massie demonstrates that real innovations in architectural design derive from the fusion of theory and practice. Massie does as much critical thinking on the job site as in the studio.”
Playa Urbana/Urban Beach addresses concepts of surface and sensuality, redefining shade, privacy, and space to create a new landscape within P.S.1’s existing large courtyard. The central element of the project is a group of three shallow reflecting and wading pools made of foam covered by plastic with a phosphorescent sheen. Although the effect is not visible during the day, at night this material appears to glow. When unoccupied, the surface of the still water reflects the light and color of the sky, uniting the natural and urban landscapes. Walls made of evenly spaced PVC tubing undulate throughout the courtyard in shapes that echo waves, providing shade. In the smaller courtyard is an enclosure in which visitors can shower.
To choose an architect for this project, experts in the field of architecture, including academics and editors of magazines, nominated some 25 candidates—recent graduates as well as established architects experimenting with new styles or techniques. Five finalists presented their proposals to a panel comprised of Lowry; Heiss; Riley; and Tom Finkelpearl, former Deputy Director, and Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator, P.S.1. In addition to Massie, the finalists selected by the panel were Office dA, Inc. (Boston, Massachusetts), Specht Harpman (New York, New York), ARO (New York, New York), and KDLAB (New York, New York). An exhibition of the finalists’ proposals is being planned for this summer at MoMA QNS, the Museum’s new temporary home in Long Island City, Queens.
This will be the fifth summer that P.S.1 has hosted a combined architectural installation and music series in its outdoor galleries. In 1999, Philip Johnson’s DJ Pavilion celebrated the historic partnership of P.S.1 and MoMA. Previous winners of the Young Architects Program include ROY (2001), and SHoP/Sharples Holden Pasquarelli (2000), the winners of the first Young Architects Program.
Willian E. Massie
William E. Massie received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in Architectural Studies from Parsons School of Design, and a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture. Upon graduation he worked for Robertson + McAnulty, Architects, and James Stewart Polshek and Partners, before starting his own company in 1993. He serves as the Coordinator for Building Technologies Research at the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University. He has received wide recognition and awards for both his research and his design and has been a lecturer and critic at many institutions throughout the country, including Harvard, Yale, and University of California, Berkeley. His work is featured in several current books and publications.
The Young Architects Program is made possible by Judy and Peter Price. Additional generous support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Peter Norton and the Peter Norton Family Foundation, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Dr. Axel and Lili Stawski, George S. Kaufman, and other individual donors.