!ndie Architecture, founded by Paul Andersen in Denver, Colorado, was chosen as a finalist in the 2009 edition of YAP with Lawn Life, an elaborate turf lawn that focused as much on the social tradition of urban parks as on suburban backyards.
Q&A with !ndie Architecture
MoMA PS1: How did you position yourself to get nominated?
Paul Andersen, !ndie Architecture: I’m a visiting critic at Harvard and Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Graduate School of Design, nominated me.
MoMA PS1: Did YAP change anything for you or your firm? When did you recognize the full potential of the competition?
!ndie Architecture: The potential of the competition was obvious very early: it was possible to combine several of the office’s primary interests—developing new models for suburban development, linking material customization to thermal control, etc. As to how it will affect the firm’s trajectory, it’s too early to tell.
MoMA PS1: How was your design shaped by the history of YAP?
!ndie Architecture: We responded to the program’s history by advocating two swerves. First we went with a ground-based scheme. Nearly every previous proposal we could find was predominantly, if not totally, a canopy. While there are advantages to leaving the surface of the courtyard clear, there are benefits to designing it too. People have more opportunities for physical-sensory interaction with the installation, there are fewer structural complications, there are a variety of ways to compartmentalize space, and different components, such as pools, furniture, and shading devices, can be highly integrated. The other way we broke with tradition was to introduce a suburban vibe. MoMA PS1 has a strong legacy of beach resort landscapes, a few urban ones, and even a farm—but never anything suburban. Because suburbia has been the source of so many fantasies and problems, we think there is a lot of potential for invention.