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Holding Pattern at MoMA PS1

Interboro Partners

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dmadsen, hanley wood, llc

Project Name

Holding Pattern at MoMA PS1

Project Status


Year Completed




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Project Description


Holding Pattern, our project for the 2011 Young Architects Program, was about recycling. To avoid designing and building things that we would have to throw away when the summer Warm Up music series was over, we took pains to ensure that all of the project’s components would have a home when the project was deinstalled. To do this, we made matches between things institutions in the neighborhood needed and things that we thought could enhance the experience of the MoMA PS1 courtyard in the summer. We met with people, asked them what they needed, selected items we thought were a good match (these included everything from benches to climbing walls to shade trees), then designed and built (or in a few cases bought) the items with the understanding that they would be “held” at MoMA PS1 during the summer. When Holding Pattern was deinstalled this past fall, we delivered 79 objects and 84 trees to more than 50 organizations in Long Island City and beyond.

This process also helped strengthen connections between MoMA PS1 and its neighborhood. Because we expanded our client base from one client (MoMA PS1) to over fifty clients, Holding Pattern operated like an urban design project. The environment we created responded to multiple, very different (and sometimes conflicting) desires: something that a fixed piece of architecture could never do. (We sometimes liken this approach to that of the Iron Chef who is given a bunch of ingredients and under tremendous time constraints and with a live audience has to make an amazing meal.)

During the summer, these objects sat in the MoMA PS1 courtyard under a canopy constructed by stringing ropes from holes in MoMA PS1’s sixteen-foot tall concrete wall to the museum’s parapet across the courtyard. In the same way that Hugh Ferris revealed the potential of New York City’s 1916 zoning code by drawing the theoretical building envelope, we revealed the very odd, idiosyncratic space of the courtyard and simultaneously created an inexpensive and column-free space for the activity below. From the ground, the experience was of a soaring hyperboloid surface.
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