Dream the Combine Fits Out MoMA PS1’s Courtyard in Mirrors and Steel
Architects & Firms
When Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers, the founders of Minneapolis-based art and architecture practice Dream the Combine, found out they won this year’s MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP), it was the couple’s four-year-old daughter who celebrated the most. “She clenched her fists, held them up, and just kind of crowed to the sky, ‘Victory!’” Carruthers recalls. The couple, on the other hand, had mixed reactions. “It felt really good, and then it struck fear into our hearts, because we actually had to make what we said we were going to make,” says Newsom.
The Museum of Modern Art’s annual competition calls on up-and-coming designers to develop a temporary installation that provides shade, seating, and water for MoMA PS1’s urban courtyard. The duo and their long-time collaborator, ARUP engineer Clayton Binkley, responded to the challenge with Hide & Seek, a series of steel-and-fabric canopies that stretch across the courtyard and fasten to the concrete walls. These structures support several gimbaled mirrors, which are positioned at various angles throughout the space to provide glimpses of infinite reflections, including unexpected views out to the surrounding streets. “As you move around, there are moments of discovery,” says Binkley. Hide & Seek is the trio’s largest project to date, and one of YAP’s most structurally challenging.
The immediate focal points are the two largest structures—one elevated to be about knee-height from the ground, the other waist-height—which are bookended with mirrored walls that can either be manually adjusted by a shaft, or sway with a strong gust of wind. When in motion, the mirrors function “kind of like an eye,” Newsom says. The structure’s black fabric ceiling is both transparent and opaque, allowing glimpses of the sky while also providing meaningful shading.
Drawing inspiration from New York-based artist Lorraine O’Grady’s 1983 performance piece Art Is, in which O’Grady walked the streets of Harlem with a gold picture frame, framing passersby as pieces of art, Dream the Combine’s pavilion reflects and refracts its visitors, creating framed compositions of intersecting lines of view. The effect is sure to be heightened during “Warm Up,” PS1’s annual summer music series, which draws a sizable crowd to the museum each weekend. “Warm Up” attendees will be able to cool down during the crowded performances with refreshing mist emitted discreetly from atop the crisscrossing trusses.
According to Dream the Combine, the ultimate intention of the pavilion is to bring multiple perspectives to the foreground. “You bring the color; you bring the flavor. Everyone is part of the art,” says Newsom.
MoMA PS1’s 2018 Young Architects Program by Dream the Combine will open June 28 and run through September 3, 2018