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Roof Deck

Erin Besler


Principal: Erin Besler

The roof occupies a fundamental position in architecture, creating inhabitable space both below and above. This is underscored by block party vernacular; we commonly hear admonitions to "raise the roof" or "tear the roof off," and, even more hyperbolically, that the "roof is on fire." Through these expressions, revelry is compounded with acts of architectural revision. Roof Deck repositions MoMA PS1’s existing roof into the courtyard, where it is activated as a social space across a spectrum of programs and experiences—from celebrity yoga to ecstatic celebration, from the collection of construction materials to exhibition through social media. Along with the summertime impulse to flaunt and reveal comes the struggle to be fit and get in shape. Paralleling this, the roof is made fit and becomes the site of performances and summer fitness programming on the roof deck.

The construction of the roof and deck exploit the tendency to accumulate waste that building practices typically produce. Rather than discard material remnants off-site, excess is cut and refit into the project for use. The roof’s gutter system redirects water that would otherwise go to waste into a collection and retention system, turning an otherwise mundane aspect of exterior architectural drainage into a feature that provides water fit for use. Borrowing from the language of the architectural building site, the always-in-progress roof is made more fit as uses change and tempos shift.