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Jenny Sabin's 'Lumen' wins MoMA PS1 competition

Jenny Sabin's pavilion crafted out of tubular fabric structures that respond to body density, heat and sunlight is the winning entry in the 2017 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program competition.

Assistant professor of architecture Jenny Sabin’s knitted installation of responsive tubular fabric structures is the winner of the 2017 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) PS1 Young Architects Program competition.

Selected from five finalists, the installation, “Lumen,” will be constructed in the entrance courtyard of PS1 in Long Island City and act as a shelter, meeting place and cooling station during the summer months. The official opening will take place June 27.

“It’s an environmentally and socially responsive system,” said Sabin, the Arthur L. and Isabel B. Wiesenberger Assistant Professor and director of graduate studies in architecture in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP). “At night ‘Lumen’ will light up using photo-luminescent and solar active yarns that absorb, collect and deliver light.”

Jenny Sabin

During daylight hours, a built-in misting system will respond to heat and body density to cool visitors. The structure is made from digitally knitted and robotically woven lightweight, high-performance and adaptive materials.

Jenny Sabin Studio was one of 50 firms nominated to submit an entry to the competition. Only nominated architects and designers are allowed to enter, and the winner is selected by a panel that includes Glenn D. Lowry, director of MoMA; Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1 and chief curator at large; and Sean Anderson, MoMA’s associate curator of architecture.

“Jenny Sabin’s catalytic immersive environment … captured the jury’s attention for imaginatively merging public and private spaces,” Anderson said. “With innovative construction and design processes borne from a critical merging of technology and nature to precise attention to detail at every scale, ‘Lumen’ will no doubt engage visitors from day to night in a series of graduated environments and experiences.”

Sabin’s win in the PS1 competition follows that of Caroline O’Donnell in 2013 for her “Party Wall” pavilion. O’Donnell is the Edgar A. Tafel Assistant Professor and director of AAP’s Master of Architecture program.

“I am enormously proud that Jenny was selected as this year’s MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program winner,” said Kent Kleinman, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of AAP. “This international competition is one of the most hotly contested and important events in the field. It is an enormous honor that two Cornell architecture faculty members have been selected winners in the past five years. Jenny’s project, like Caroline’s three years ago, will be utterly astonishing.”

Jenny Sabin Studio
A rendering of Jenny Sabin’s knitted installation "Lumen."

Sabin said that the project “takes risks through collaboration across disciplines, applying insights and theories from biology, materials science, mathematics and engineering.”

“Lumen” was created by Jenny Sabin Studio with input from the Sabin Design Lab. Cornell students and alumni participating in the project’s creation include Jordan Berta, M.Arch. ’16; Diego Garcia Blanco, M.Arch. ’20; Andres Gutierrez, B.Arch. ’15; Jingyang Liu Leo, M.Arch. ’15, M.S. ’20; Mark Lien, M.Arch. ’19; Jasmine Liu ’18; Andrew Moorman, B.Arch. ’17; Christopher Morse, M.Arch. ’17; Dillon Pranger, M.Arch. ’15 and Cole Skaggs, B.Arch. ’16. Sabin also worked closely with the design and engineering firm Arup and their structural engineer Clayton Binkley on refining the structure.

Now in its 18th edition, the Young Architects Program at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 has offered emerging architectural talent the opportunity to design and present innovative projects, challenging each year’s winners to develop creative designs for a temporary outdoor installation that provides shade, seating and water. The architects must also work within guidelines that address environmental issues, including sustainability and recycling.

Rebecca Bowes is assistant director of communications in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

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