critic: andrew ZAGO
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
paul MECOMBER: The Whitney Museum, by architect Marcel Breuer, is an iconic cultural artifact of New York City, and serves as the identity of the institution of the museum itself. This identity has been thrown into a state of turmoil as a result of plans to relocate from Madison Avenue to the southern terminal end of the Highline Park. Seeing this as an opportunity, this project seeks to re-imagine the problems associated with iconic identity in museum design by twining Breuer’s Whitney on the new Highline site.
This doubling responds to the need of the institution to grow while producing a strange familiarity with the new architectural identity of the museum. The figure of the conjoined twin is notable in that it retains both a sense of maximum differentiation (in terms of identity) and maximum similarity (in terms of massing). Architecturally, conjoined twins produce an overall organization of near symmetry which, in turn, produces a series of predicaments for the parts and secondary organizations. This is a strange symmetry in which a heightened sense of the uncanny is tangible.
Sensation can be both immediate and abstract, as much about the present as it is about the near future and the recent past.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
pM: Andrew Zago, Jeffery Kipnis, Marcel Breuer, Francis Bacon, and my twin brother.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
pM: Fincher’s The Social Network, Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Lynn’s Folds, Bodies & Blobs, Horn’s aka Roni Horn, Vidler’s The Architectural Uncanny, and of course KCRW.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?:
pM: Andrew Zago, Tom Wiscombe, Marcelo Spina, Elena Manferdini, Roni Horn, Cai-Guo-Qiang.
JURY COMMENTS ///
aaron BETSKY — The Whitney Museum has always been a strange beast, and this skewed doubling brings out its most off-kilter aspects.
hernan DIAZ ALONSO — Awkward would be the word that defines this project, the abstract conceptualization of the “twin” technique introduce a strong sensibility of allegorical qualities that fortunately doesn’t become metaphorical, the operation of massing through the thickening of the surface is highly relevant to current state of architecture.
tom WISCOMBE — This project is a refreshing anomaly. It combines a conceptual approach (the twinning and re-contextualizing of an iconic building) with a desire to find formal continuities through patterning. The patchiness and high-contrast of the of the pattern creates a complex reading layered on top of the collision of the oblique masses. The project is somehow productively out of step with a lot of contemporary student work, which makes it charming.