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Designers: Lisa Iwamoto, Craig Scott

San Francisco-based IwamotoScott was a finalist in the YAP competition in 2007. Their project, REEF, combined the atmospheric, cloudy elements of the sky with those of the deep-sea floor.

Q&A with IwamotoScott

MoMA PS1: How did you position yourself to get nominated?

Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, IwamotoScott: The nomination process always seemed mysterious and elusive. Since being one of the finalists, we're frequently asked how we "got in." We were lucky because we were nominated by two people the same year—by a friend and colleague, Tom Wiscombe, who won the competition a couple years before, and also by Lisa's dean at Berkeley, Harrison Fraker. Then, of course finding out you've been nominated is so exciting but for us, there was only a few days to get our materials in, and that was a bit hectic....

MoMA PS1: Did YAP change anything for you or your firm? When did you recognize the full potential of the competition?
IwamotoScott: The full potential was pretty obvious to us before we were asked to submit for the competition since MoMA PS1 has been a great launching pad for a number of young, now well-recognized firms. Since we were finalists and didn't build our scheme, for us the competition mostly affected how we charrette. We're working to deadlines all the time, but MoMA PS1 was a really intensive, long, and multi-pronged effort. We had a core team of eight to ten people but roughly fifty people ended up helping us out on things like large mock-ups, animations, detailed models, and renderings. It was a great experience in that way—getting so many students and people involved really elevated the level of production and digital animation in the office. Unlike other competitions, everyone's heard of MoMA PS1 and are really excited for you. They want to be involved. It was truly a fabulous team effort.

MoMA PS1: How was your design shaped by the history of YAP?
IwamotoScott: One of the challenging things about designing for MoMA PS1 is that there have been so many great ideas already generated for the competition. Some of the past projects by firms like nARCHITECTS, EMERGENT, and SHoP have become so much a part of a collective architectural consciousness that we had to start by telling ourselves not to do anything like them. We did a lot of research into the history of the YAP entries and put together a PowerPoint dating back to the project's beginning that included all of the winning projects and as many of the non-built entries as possible. We went over it with the whole team and also used it as a way to talk about the WarmUp program, space, tectonic and structural possibilities, and how to achieve the right level of complexity for the installation as a whole. Of course one of our main concerns was how to get it built in the time allocated. Past entries were a really valuable learning tool in that way.