COSMO is amazing. The spectacular water-filtering monstrosity that looms over MoMA PS1’s courtyard is an exercise in making beautiful form that reifies the political forces behind global networks. The tropical blue and orange character evokes everything from Lapidus to Archigram to Gaudi. The brilliance and execution of its design is undeniable.
I was sitting underneath COSMO—designed by Andres Jaque / Office for Political Innovation—when the music and other activities started to take hold. The large tires that connect the pavilion to the ground felt a little smoother, like the feet of a slippery swamp being. It was now coming to life, like a fluorescent, flora-haired demon. The ground became wobbly and wheat grew up from the ground. Was the monster harvesting the grain?
Where I once saw tubs of algae and plants, I now saw vats of beer being brewed. The clear tubes were full of amber-hued liquid. The DJ said something about cooling off and the rings at the top of the monster began to spin, disconnecting the tubes and spraying beer all over the crowd. I felt good that the monster was shading me from the sun, and spraying water on me. It felt good to be engaged with a structure like this.
As I stood there, I came to the realization that COSMO doesn’t even exist in the PS1 courtyard. Its site is the internet, Instagram, and Facebook. Its message of sustainability doesn’t need a physical site. It is just another piece in MoMA’s self-indulgent, publicity-obsessed curatorial stance. Unfortunately, much architecture is this way now—designed for publicity, branding, and raising awareness, rather than physical experience of space. COSMO is brilliant in so many ways, but MoMA has turned YAP into a green-washed farce that makes it impossible for young architects to make truly architecturally engaging work. Though detached in many ways from the practice of architecture, COSMO, for its enterprising purpose and for the visual spectacle in itself, is worth the trek on the G train.