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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Holding Pattern in New York by Interboro Partners

February 24th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal


“Holding Pattern” is the product of a sustained dialog with MoMA PS1’s courtyard and its neighbors. Instead of telling it what it should be, we patiently listened to what it and its neighbors had to say, then responded in kind. The result of this dialog is a scheme doesn’t so much redesign the courtyard as reveal it.

Entry of Holding Pattern

Entry of Holding Pattern


Time and circumstance had its way with MoMA PS1’s courtyard, which in an ideal world would be shaped like a rectangle but which is in reality an irregular seven-sided polygon. Thanks to its neighbor, 2201 Jackson Avenue, which managed to muscle its way into MoMA PS1’s courtyard, and to Jackson Avenue itself, which chopped off the block’s southwestern corner, Warm Up has had to make do with a very odd, idiosyncratic space. The stairs in front of Warm Up’s stage suggest that people should watch the audience instead of the performers, entering the museum feels like being backstage with the band, and the backdoor has been repurposed as the main entry. But as the best baseball stadiums demonstrate, having to make do with less-than-ideal conditions can yield positive outcomes. The neighbor’s roof deck offers a great view of the action (it is analogous to the rooftop bleachers in right field of Wrigley Field), the relationship of the stairs, stage, and museum engenders encounters that might not otherwise happen, and the rear entrance activates Jackson Avenue, especially on a Warm Up day, when the long line of patrons creates an unexpected, temporary street scene.

Final Stage Complete

“Holding Pattern” reveals this situation by stringing ropes from holes in MoMA PS1’s concrete wall to the parapet across the courtyard. In the same way that Hugh Ferris reveals the potential of New York City’s 1917 zoning code by drawing the theoretical building envelope, we reveal the very odd, idiosyncratic space of the courtyard and simultaneously create an inexpensive and column-free space for the activity below. From the ground, the experience is of a soaring hyperboloid surface.

Holding Pattern


Takis is the owner of Checker Management, a taxi cab company located across the street from MoMA PS1. Takis leases 150 cabs to 300 drivers, who show up every day between 4:00 and 6:00 to pick up their cab, gas it up, and perform routine maintenance. In the summer, when the weather is nice, Takis sets up a makeshift outdoor plaza for his employees. The plastic tables, chairs, and tent are used by the drivers to sit, talk, and—on weekends in the summer—watch the throngs of people who pour into MoMA PS1 for the Warm-Up.

Holding Pattern

“It’s not much, but I do what I can to keep my drivers happy,” Takis told us.

As finalists of MoMA PS1’s Young Architect’s competition, our task is of course to think about how to keep Warm Up’s patrons happy. But as Takis’s story suggests, Warm-Up’s programmatic requirements—seating, shade, and a water feature—sometimes overlap with the needs of Warm Up’s neighbors.

Animated Image of Holding Pattern

“Holding Pattern” is a new take on recycling. For it, we talked to as many of MoMA PS1’s neighbors as we could. In addition to cab drivers, we met with senior and day care centers, high schools, settlement houses, and the local YMCA, library, and greenmarket (to name just a few). We simply asked each one: is there something you need that we could design, use in the courtyard during the Warm Up, then donate in the fall, once the Warm Up is over?

PS1 hold and Plan with Links

The result is an eclectic collection of objects—including benches, mirrors, ping-pong tables, and flood lights—that we never would have thought to include, but that both enhance the Warm Up’s program, and strengthen MoMA PS1’s ties to its neighborhood.


Tobias Armborst (Principal), Daniel D’Oca (Principal), Georgeen Theodore (Principal), Rebecca Beyer Winik (Project Manager), Kathleen Cahill, Cristobal Correa (Structural Engineer), Andrew Coslow, Jenessa Frey, Lesser Gonzalez, David Himelman, Jenna Kaminsky, Brian Novello, Joel Okpala, Carsten Rodin, Becky Slogeris, Jeff Thompson (Structural Engineer)

Special thanks:

Bancker Construction Corporation, Benjamin Ball, Buro Happold, Hillary Sample, NJIT Modelshop, Valerie Moss (Citibank)

Contact Interboro Partners

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Category: Courtyard

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