A forthcoming exhibition series at MoMA will highlight equitable and sustainable projects in New York City

Homegrown Ideas

A forthcoming exhibition series at MoMA will highlight equitable and sustainable projects in New York City

James Corner Field Operations. Freshkills Park, 2001-present. (Photograph by Biyoung Heo/Courtesy James Corner Field Operations)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has announced a new exhibition seriesArchitecture Now, that will serve as a platform to highlight emerging talent and foreground groundbreaking projects in contemporary architectureIn its first iteration Architecture Now: New York, New Publicswill highlight projects in New York City addressing social inequities and issues related to shared space across all five boroughs. As part of this first cycle, 12  architects and designers will showcase both completed and speculative works. They include Adjaye Associates; Agency—Agency and Chris Woebken; CO Adaptive; James Corner Field Operations; Kinfolk Foundation; nARCHITECTS; New Affiliates and Samuel Stewart-Halevy; Olalekan Jeyifous; Only If—; Peterson Rich Office; SO – IL; and SWA/Balsley and Weiss/Manfredi.

The various designs, artworks, and urban plans featured in the upcoming exhibition point toward a future which is more equitable and environmentally friendly. Each are presented within the context of the Covid-19 crisis and the social justice movements that took off in the summer of 2020. Through innovation, adaptive reuse, and public advocacy these projects respond to the upheaval of the global pandemic as well as the discrimination and environmental racism which remains imbedded in our systems of governance and infrastructure.

“This first presentation of New York, New Publics is an opportunity to look back at the architecture produced in New York during a particularly challenging and traumatic period,” said assistant curator Evangelos Kotsioris in a press statement. “Our goal is also to highlight projects and practices that go above and beyond their original briefs to prioritize inclusion and participation in the daily life of the city.”

The Architecture Now series follows the 2019 culmination of MoMA and MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program, and will profile the work of emerging local talent. Each project in this exhibition will feature a short film directed by Hudson Lines, a filmmaker whose previous work includes short films for Philip Johnson’s Glass House, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Criterion Collection.

Among the works on feature in the first cycle of New York, New Publics, which will open in February 2023, is New Public Hydrant, a prototype of a pipe system envisioned by Brooklyn designer Chris Woebken and Agency—Agency that transforms fire hydrants into public showers and drinking fountains. The concept responds to global water shortages in the wake of climate change, imagining a more equitable system of public water access.

New Public Hydrant consists of three distinct prototypes. The first, Hydrants for All, is a system of four connected water fountains at varying heights. This includes a bowl at ground level for pets, two fountains at hip level for human consumption, and an elevated fountain which functions as a bird bath. The second prototype, titled Hydrant on Tap, is a water-bottle filling station and the third in the series, Hydration Space, is an elevated water sprinkler, meant to entertain (and cool off) children during the summer.

drawing of sprinkler system attached to fire-hydrant
Agency—Agency and Chris Woebken Studio. New Public Hydrant, 2018-present. New York, NY. (Tei Carpenter and Chris Woebken)

Adjaye Associates’ mural of Martin Luther King Jr. commissioned on behalf of the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a large healthcare union located in New York City, responds to the strikes and pickets protesting segregation and hiring discrimination. King called the 1199 “his favorite union” and spoke in front of the healthcare union just weeks before his assassination. Adjaye’s mural, a featured project in the upcoming exhibition, presently rises four stories along the main stairwell of the 1199’s public member space. The tiled work features quotations and photographs from King’s infamous 1968 speech.

Martin Luther King mural
Adjaye Associates. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, 2018-20. Central atrium’s four-floor feature wall includes depiction of Martin Luther King, Jr., as viewed from the fourth floor. (© Dror Baldinger)

Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center, by nARCHITECTS, a 330-foot-long building comprising a series of cedar-clad gallery rooms topped with single-sloped roofs and corridors connecting each room, will also be a featured project in the forthcoming exhibition. The nature center at Jones Beach, a state park on Long Island running along the Atlantic Ocean, was built to educate the public about clean energy use. Powered by solar panels and geothermal energy, the building is carbon-free, setting an example for the future of green construction.

Wood building on Jones Beach
nArchitects. Jones Beach Energy & Research Center, 2018-20. Aerial view looking South East. (Michael Moran)

New Publics will also showcase plans to modernize the New York City Housing Authority developed by Brooklyn-based Peterson Rich Office (PRO). The firm’s proposal would update electricity systems in existing buildings to improve energy efficiency and add balconies, larger side walks, and increased public space to historically underfunded and neglected housing projects.

Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, designed by SWA/Basely, Weiss/Manfredi, and ARUP, is an ecological-minded project included in the exhibition. It reconstructed the wetland ecosystem natural to the area abutting the East River, while simultaneously integrating a public park offering community access to natural ecology and green space, and not to mention a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline. Wetlands provide a number of ecological benefits such as flood protection, decomposition of carbon and pollutants, and offer habitat for a variety of species.

Waterfront park with city view
SWA/Balsley and Weiss/Manfredi. Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, 2009-18. Wetland walkway and overlook. (David Lloyd/SWA)

Also on display will be in-progress work by James Corner Field Operations on Freshkills Park in Staten Island. A swath of land located on the site of a former landfill that, when completed, will be almost three times the size of Central Park in Manhattan. The Freshkills landfill, which was officially closed in 2001, was temporarily reopened following the September 11th attacks to house debris and wreckage from ground-zero that was then sifted through for human remains. As of today, this part of the landfill is still in the process of being buried and covered with dirt. Like Hunter’s Point in Queens, Freshkills Park will reconstruct the wetlands that were lost when the area was originally developed.

The exhibition will be on view from February 19, 2023 to July 29, 2023. A series of public programs, including offsite and virtual talks and presentations will accompany the physical exhibition.