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[Exclusive] MoMA PS1 Parties Are Lit This Summer, Thanks to Science

Architect Jenny Sabin installs a magical photo-reactive structure for the museum's 2017 Warm Up series.

by Beckett Mufson
Jul 6 2017, 9:42pm

Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez

This summer, Warm Up at MoMA PS1 is lit—literally—by Lumen, a million-yard luminescent fiber installation designed by architect Jenny Sabin. The Cornell University associate professor and founder of Jenny Sabin Architects is the 18th winner of the museum's Young Architects Program, and her space will entertain thousands flocking to see live music by the likes of A$AP Ferg, Wiki, and yet-to-be-announced artists at PS1's annual summer parties.

"I'm very interested in the notion of personalized architecture," Sabin tells Creators. "What does that mean? How do we begin to attune and adapt our spaces individually and collectively?" How, in other words, do you design a party that can handle the Warm Up crowds without sacrificing intimacy? Sabin's answer is an adaptive space that bends to the needs of party-goers by "innovating emerging tech that creates exchange."

Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez

Lumen earned praise from MoMA Department of Architecture and Design Associate Curator Sean Anderson, for "imaginatively merging public and private spaces." In addition to Sabin's illuminating show of cutting-edge fabrication technology, this is the key to making the party shine.

Sensors detect movement and dole out cooling mist to create what Sabin calls "microclimates" that divide the space. By day, one half of the fibers comprising Lumen's canopy—a million yards long if unraveled—change color when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays. Microscopic crystalline structures transform the material from white to yellow and blue, a function you can see in real time as your shadow passes over the fabric. The other fibers soak up rays all day and glow when it gets dark. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the soft stalactites hanging from the otherworldly structure.

Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez

"Right when the headliner comes on, sunset hits," says MoMA PS1 Director of Communications Molly Kurzius. "It's the perfect moment in terms of how the installation activates." No matter when you hit the Long Island City-based Museum of Modern Art satellite's summer parties, lit is what it will be.

Fabricators spent three and half months straight 3D printing Lumen's canopy using a technique initially developed by Japanese textile company Shima Seiki to make bespoke outfits. It's similar in composition to a trendy sock sneaker, but is the first time this technology has been applied at an architectural scale.

Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez

A grove of 100 wooden spools like those on which the fibers would be stored act as Lumen's seating. Metal columns extending from the massive canopy to the ground are supported only by a web of ropes stretching from top to bottom. This is safe, Sabin says assuredly, due to tensegrity (tension + integrity), which keeps them erect no matter how raucous the party gets. In fact, she encourages visitors to explore the hollow beneath each pole as part of her mission to blend public and private, crowds and intimacy. Below is an exclusive timelapse of the canopy being zipped over these pillars.

Sabin secured the chance to design MoMA PS1's party haven through the annual Young Architects Program, in which emerging firms compete for the funding and space to make an experimental, thoughtful, and beautiful installation. She's influenced by marine biology and applies the practice of biomimicry, or adapting natural concepts to artificial structures, to her curvaceous, modern creations.

Previous winners of the Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1 include Escobedo Soliz Studio's technicolor spiderweb, Andrés Jaque's mirrored water filtration system, and The Living's biodegradable mushroom tower.

Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez
Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez
Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez
Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez
Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez
Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez
Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez
Lumen by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez

Warm-Ups at MoMA PS1 will be held every Saturday from noon to nine at night through September 2. Check out the line-up here.

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