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MoMA

MEET WENDY

July 11, 2012  |  Collection & Exhibitions, MoMA PS1
Meet Wendy

HWKN’s Wendy, winning design of Young Architects Program 2012. Image courtesy of HWKN. © Iwan Baan

Our project for the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program is about redefining the boundaries of architecture. It is a proactive participant in the city’s ecology thanks to a skin that collects NO2 from the air—to the equivalent of taking 260 cars off of the road. It also shoots out water and cool air to entertain the thousands of weekly visitors to the MoMA PS1 courtyard, and to keep them comfortable. But our design is more than just the sum total of its functionality. It pushes at the typical constraints of architecture through sheer force of personality. It is called Wendy.

HWKN’s Wendy, winning design of Young Architects Program 2012. Image courtesy of HWKN. © Iwan Baan

When we named our design Wendy we knew that we were challenging a long tradition of architectural nomenclature. There is no shortage of great names for architectural projects. Even a quick perusal of past Young Architects Program winners reveals gems like PF1 (Public Farm 1), Holding Pattern, and Liquid Sky. But Wendy is different. It’s not a name that describes purpose or an architectural operation. Every strong storm has a name, and Wendy is a force of change that blows in the face of architecture’s discourse on sustainability. By personifying the project the name elicits an emotional connection. Within its short lifetime people have been sending e-mails to wendy@hwkn.com asking for a summer drink with Wendy. Facebook comments about dating are constantly dribbling in, and e-mails that reference a desire to meet Wendy are a constant.

HWKN’s Wendy, winning design of Young Architects Program 2012. Image courtesy of HWKN. © Iwan Baan

This personal connection to the project surpasses our wildest dreams as architects. The name breaks a barrier between architecture and the general population by allowing people to feel comfortable talking about a project in the context of popular culture and to relate to it without academic discourse. The name is an invitation to create a friendship with a building, and to be inspired by an installation that is not flawless, but has the right intentions. The success of the name has taken us by surprise, but it also confirms our hunch that the public wants more than just beautiful and functional buildings—they want buildings with personality!

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