Designers: Douglas Gauthier, Jeremy Edmiston
SYSTEMarchitects was a New York City-based architecture firm that competed as a finalist in both 2001 and 2003. Douglas Gauthier, now of Gauthier Architects, and Jeremy Edmiston's entry in 2003 became the creative basis for many future projects.
Q&A with Douglas Gauthier, Gauthier Architects
MoMA PS1: How did you position yourself to get nominated?
Douglas Gauthier, Gauthier Architects: Jeremy Edmiston and I were short-listed on two occasions: in 2001 and 2003. Both times, we treated the project as the most important project in the office—equivalent to being selected for any highly coveted competition. The chance to build something in New York City, for MoMA PS1, was a stop-the-presses experience for a young architect. If I remember correctly, in 2001, George Ranalli at City College nominated us. In 2003, it may have been Terry Riley who gave us a second chance.
MoMA PS1: Did YAP change anything for you or your firm? When did you recognize the full potential of the competition?
Douglas Gauthier: The idea for the plywood tension structure, developed as the entry for YAP 2003, was an experiment that marked the beginning of a vital research project that manifested itself in several forms. While we did not have the opportunity to build it at MoMA PS1, we turned the structural idea into an exhibition design presented at the Architectural League of New York. We later expanded this design into a full-scale, prefabricated house built in 2006 on the Eastern coast of Australia and in 2008 for Home Delivery at The Museum of Modern Art.
The fact that this design idea ultimately turned into three distinct projects represents the level of seriousness with which we took this opportunity. The evolution of this project and the research that went into it continues to be a big part of my standard office lecture. I feel that seeing the same initial idea developed and played out in various forms is an important lesson for other and future young architects.
MoMA PS1: How was your design shaped by the history of YAP?
Douglas Gauthier: The MoMA PS1 program is comparable to a pavilion at the World's Fair or at the Venice Biennale. It is a crucial part of New York's architectural history and of contemporary architectural culture. The constant site, constant program, and constant season afford young experimental architecture firms an incredibly exciting opportunity. I think everyone involved in the program treats it as a tremendously rare opportunity for a young office.