Realized in 2003 at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center courtyard, the MoMA/P.S.1 Urban Beach is based on two distinct but interrelated elements: the diamond roof and the leisure landscape. The landscape integrates various programmatic elements, such as lap pools, lounge furniture, and promenade catwalks at different heights. At key points, the leisure landscape lifts up to structurally support the roof.
Rather than defaulting to a conventional, vector-based filigree structure, the roof operates as a long-span structure through the use of chunky, interconnected diamond-shaped volumes. Ranging up to 9’ deep and 50’ long, each diamond is different and each one is informed by structural and shading performance criteria. Nevertheless, this is should not be confused with a parametric structural “solution”; the overall aesthetic effect of the set of diamonds, and their proportion and scale relative to one another was of primary importance for the project.
Container of Objects
A translucent outer enclosure ‘vacuum forms’ the diamonds; pressing from top and bottom, producing crenellations and pleats. This second skin provides shade for the P.S.1 courtyard, but also binds the diamonds together visually. Surfaces of this container are rationalized into parabolic and conoidal patches, and connected together in such a way that their geometric logic is not immediately intelligible. By rotating the expanded aluminum skin 90 degrees on the diamonds and illuminating them from within, the piece appears as a container of discrete objects at night. During the day, the diamonds fade to the background and the piece appears monolithic.