P.S.1 Urban Beach

P.S.1 Urban Beach in Long Island City, New York by Emergent LA, 2003

Since 1998, P.S.1 Museum in Queens, New York, has hosted an architectural/music collaboration in its "V"-shaped courtyard, and this year Tom Wiscombe of Emergent LA is the winner of the Young Architects Program that opened July 29. With a budget of only $60,000, the design creates an "urban beach" that will be a venue for the summer music program, Warm Up, as well as a space for socializing and relaxing. The design features two key elements: the MicroMultiple Roof and the Leisure Landscape (as coined by the architect), both of which enable the program's different uses.

With the recent, temporary relocation of The Museum of Modern Art to an old staple factory in Queens, and the presence of the Sculpture Center nearby, this borough is becoming an attractive place for artists and artistic venues. The decentralization of the arts from Manhattan was an inevitable happening, with the cost of living on the island outweighing the means of many artists and their institutions. P.S.1's summer programs help to make their location that much more appealing as a destination for art, as well as a place to enjoy New York in the warm months.

The winning design by Tom Wiscombe is based on adaptability, providing shade and a place for people to relax or even swim during the day, while accommodating the nightly events that require space for up to 7,000 people. The previously mentioned landscape and roof are the devices that allow the multiple functions of the urban beach, primarily the roof which uses flexible connections to allow for movement.

As completed, the translucent skin of the roof attracts the most attention, formally recalling the work of Wiscombe's previous firm - and ongoing collaborators - Coop Himmelb(l)au. At night the sail-like roof, along with colored lights, acts like a lantern to liven the space and create an experience worthy of a world-class contemporary art institution.