Behind “Hy-Fi”: The Organic, Compostable Tower That Won MoMA PS1′s Young Architects Program 2014

The Living’s Hy-Fi, winning design of the 2014 Young Architects Program. The Museum of Modern Art and MoMAPS1. Image © The Living

This article, published by Metropolis Magazine as “Behind the Living’s “100% Organic” Pavilion for MoMA PS1“, goes behind the plans for this year’s PS1 Young Architects Program’s winning design, “Hy-Fi” – looking at the compostable eco-bricks which make the design possible.

“It all starts on local farms with waste corn stalks,” says Sam Harrington of Ecovative, who will help build this year’s winning entry for the MoMA PS1 Young Architect’s Program. Hy-Fi, designed by the -based firm The Living, will be made of bricks that are entirely organic and ultimately, compostable. A good chunk of that material is corn stalks, stained clay-red with an organic dye from Shabd Simon-Alexander and Audrey Louisere . The rest is mycelium—mushroom roots to you and me—that will hold the corn stalks together as they cohere into a molded shape. The technology, developed by Ecovative in 2007, has so far been used as a packaging material. “But we love the chance to try something bold, and that’s what PS1 is all about,” Harrington says.

Read more about the bricks behind Hy-Fi after the break

David Zwirner Gallery / Selldorf Architects

© Jason Schmidt

Architects: Selldorf Architects
Location: 537 West 20th Street, , NY,
Area: 30,000 sqft
Year: 2013
Photographs: Jason Schmidt

AD Classics: Woolworth Building / Cass Gilbert

View of Woolworth Building and surrounding buildings (ca. 1913), via Wikimedia Commons

The Woolworth Building, an innovative and elegant early completed in 1913, endures today as an iconic form on the New York City skyline. A historicist exterior sheaths a modern steel tower, embodying both the era’s modern spirit of progress and its hesitation to fully break from the past. , selected as the architect, believed the designer should “weave into the pattern of our own civilization the beauty that is our inheritance.”[1]  An ornate monument to the growing economic dominance of New York City, the building was dubbed the “Cathedral of Commerce.”

Frank Gehry’s Ground Zero Performing Arts Scheme Abandoned

Original Proposal. Image © Gehry Partners

The recent hire of temporary artistic director has indicated that plans for Ground Zero’s “world center for the performing arts” is moving forward in New York. The famed London director will work alongside managing partner Andy Hayles to revise the original Frank Gehry-designed scheme which, according to the center’s president, was prematurely designed. This leaves Gehry’s involvement unclear, as the initial 1000-seat center will be abandoned for a scaled down, three-theater house that ranges from 150 to 550 seats. Competition for funding also remains an obstacle, in light of venues such as Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s 2017 Culture Shed. You can learn more about the center’s update here

AD Classics: 2 Columbus Circle / Edward Durell Stone & Associates

North Facade. Image © Ezra Stoller/Esto

Located on a small and irregular shaped island at Columbus Circle, one of the busiest intersections in Manhattan, lies 2 Columbus Circle, formerly known as the Gallery of Modern Art. Famously described as a “die-cut Venetian palazzo on lollipops” by Ada Louise Huxtable, the Times architecture critic at the time, the 10-story poured concrete structure has been a source of consistent controversy and public response since the 1960s.  Designed by Edward Durell Stone, an early proponent of American modern architecture, 2 Columbus Circle represents a turning point in his career.  Uncharacteristic of Stone’s prior work, his use of ornament on an otherwise modern structure can be seen as an important precedent of the development of the soon-to-emerge Postmodern movement.

Winning Submissions Envision Gateway for Abandoned Railway in Queens

3rd Prize ($1000): Make It! Grow It! / Song Deng and René Biberstein of Toronto, Canada

The Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) committee of the AIA New York Chapter has announced the winners of its 2014 biennial design ideas competition, . In an effort to imagine the ways in which The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the Queensway could transform an abandoned railway in Central into a vibrant urban greenway, entrants were challenged to design a vertical gateway for the elevated viaduct portion of a 3.5 mile stretch along the rail. 

Of the 120 submitted proposals from 28 countries, the jury selected the following winners to represent the diverse array of ideas generated:

MoMA to Preserve Folk Art Facade

© Flickr CC User Dan Nguyen

Though it has been confirmed that Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Museum of Modern Art expansion will result in the demise of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects’ American Folk Art Museum, the New York Times has confirmed that the beloved copper-bronze facade will be preserved.

“We will take the facade down, piece by piece, and we will store it,” Glenn D. Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art, said in an interview. “We have made no decision about what happens subsequently, other than the fact that we’ll have it and it will be preserved.”

Young Projects Play “Match-Maker” in Times Square

© Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts

Young Projects will be spending the week playing “Match-Maker” in City, as the Brooklyn-based studio has debuted their interactive Valentine’s Day installation in the heart of Times Square. Made in collaboration with fabricator Kammetal, as part of Times Square Alliance’s sixth annual heart design competition, the interactive heart-shaped sculpture is designed to cosmically connect people based on their zodiac signs by arranging curious passerby’s at twelve points surrounding the installation.  

As describes, “Peering through colorful, interwoven periscopes provides glimpses of each viewer’s four most ideal astrological mates, offering potentially novel connections between lonely souls or settled lovers.”

AD Classics: Pennsylvania Station / McKim, Mead & White

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

’s original Pennsylvania Station was a monument to movement and an expression of American economic power. In 1902, the noted firm , Mead and White was selected by the President of the Pennsylvania Railroad to design its Manhattan terminal. Completed in 1910, the gigantic steel and stone building covered four city blocks until its demolition in 1963, when it ceded to economic strains hardly fifty years after opening. 

REX Unveils Details of Five Manhattan West Development

450 West 33rd Street / Rendering of building with completed renovations

Joshua Prince-Ramus of REX, together with Brookfield Properties unveiled today the $200 Million redevelopment of 450 West 33rd Street in . The 1.8 million-square-foot building will be integrated into the Manhattan West Development.

The architectural firm designed the redevelopment of Five Manhattan West, including a new pleated glass façade which will create floor‐to‐ceiling windows on every floor, maximizing daylight penetration while reducing solar gain through geometric ‘self‐shading.’ The interior program includes a redesigned lobby, upgraded and expanded elevators, and enhanced HVAC and other mechanical systems. New retail storefronts will provide a welcoming streetscape. The renovation is expected to be completed in 2016.

More details on the project after the break.

Raimund Abraham’s Last Project Realized at Former NATO Missile Base

© Tomas Riehle / Arturimages

Raimund Abraham’s last project, a “stunning” design for a building atop an unused NATO missile base in Hombroich, has been realized four years after the architect’s death. At the time of his passing, Abraham was working on this project as part of a unique outdoor art complex close to Düsseldorf, Germany. A competition has now been announced to determine the future for the space which has become an “an integral part of Hombroich’s cultural sphere.”

A McDonald’s Controversy Raises Debate on Designing for the Elderly

© Flickr CC User symmetry_mind

In an article for the New York Times, Michael Kimmelman gets to the bottom of an unusual local dispute: a McDonald’s in New York is kicking out groups of elderly Koreans who are out-staying their 20-minute welcome (and who have no access to spaces nearby). The story raises an important question: how can we design our cities with elder populations in mind (a generation on track to out-number all others in the next few years)? You can read this poignant tale in full here.

The Living Wins P.S.1 with Compostable Brick Tower

Courtesy of The Living

The Museum of Modern Art and PS1 has selected ”Hy-Fi,” a “circular tower of organic and reflective bricks” designed by The Living (David Benjamin), as the winner of the 15th annual Young Architects Program () in New York. An exemplar of the cradle-to-cradle philosophy, the temporary installation will be built entirely from organic material via a new method of bio-design.

Four Practices Re-Envision Parking in Long Island Downtowns

Parks and Rides. Image © Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design and the Index

Long Island’s downtowns have more than 4,000 acres of surface area dedicated to parking lots. That’s roughly 6.5 square miles of prime real estate, a phenomenon quite common in most American cities. When necessary, these lots are often exchanged for a standard “set of concrete shelves” that share little to no connection with their surroundings. This leads to the question, why must parking garages be so monofunctional and, well, ugly?

To help solve this nationwide issue, the Long Island Index challenged four leading architectural firms to envision a more innovative way to free up surface lot space in four Long Island communities.

See what they came up with, after the break…

Six Firms Named 2014′s “New Practices New York”

Haffenden House / PARA-Project

The American Institute of America’s Chapter (AIANY) has selected six young, and “pioneering” firms as the winners of the 2014 portfolio competition. The award is designed “to recognize and promote” emerging practices that are less than a decade old and based within the five boroughs of New York City. As a result, each winner will be featured in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture from October 1, through January 15, 2015.

Without further ado, the 2014 New Practices New York winners are:

Case Studies in Coastal Vulnerability: Boston, Seoul, Hamburg, Bangladesh & New York

Water floods the Plaza Shops in Manhattan after Superstorm Sandy, 2012. Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images.

This article originally appeared in the latest issue of ArchitectureBoston as “Troubled Waters.“ 

The challenges of sea-level rise cross boundaries of all sorts: geographic, political, social, economic. Proposed mitigation strategies will also necessarily shift and overlap. Here, we present five case studies from across the globe that offer intriguing ways—some operational, some philosophical—to address the threats associated with climate change. Drawing on a research initiative focused on vulnerabilities in Boston, a team at developed these additional design-strategy icons to illustrate the layered approaches. They are adaptable, the better to meet the unique demands of each coastal community.

New Images Released of Foster + Partners’ Luxury Manhattan Condominium

© Hayes Davidson, Courtesy of

Foster + Partners has released new images of their revised, 19-story luxury condominium tower planned for West Chelsea in New York. Named after its address, 551 West 21st Street, the cast- and glass structure plans to open its 44 residences, and three penthouses, to occupancy in the Fall of 2015. 

The Architectural League Spring Events

The Architectural League announced their Spring 2014 calendar of events. ‘First Friday’ events are held at the offices of the hosting firms. It started January 10 with Toshiko Mori and future participants include COOKFOX Architects, SHoP Architects, and GLUCK+.

‘Current Work’ lectures are held at The Cooper Union and are co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union. The lectures will start this Thursday, January 23 with Richard Meier, and future lecturers include Yung Ho Chang, Farshid Moussavi, and Sou Fujimoto.

For more information on the events, please go to ’s official website.