WORK Architecture Company principals Amale Andraos and Dan Wood literally changed the nature of the 2008 competition when they decided to build a fully functioning farm right in the courtyard of PS1.

Q&A with WORK Architecture Company

Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, WORK Architecture Company: At the start of our practice, we weren’t as much interested in defining a voice as we were a strategy: do a hundred projects, and see if anything comes of it. And if it doesn’t, do another hundred. At the time of the competition, this was the most youthful aspect of our practice. In a way we didn’t feel that we were young. We had decided that the competition wasn’t called the Young People’s Program; it was called the Young Architects Program. Kurt Cobain committed suicide at 27, the same age that Frank Gehry decided to go to architecture school.

MoMA PS1: Do you think being a young architect is a bonus?

WORK Architecture Company: These days it is changing around the world and even in New York! Young architects in China are shaping the future of their country and its cities while young architects in New York are finally no longer required to renovate bathrooms for an extended time. There’s something about youth and being at the edge—that’s why it’s called “bad boy,” not “bad man.”

MoMA PS1: Public Farm One (P.F.1) definitely added another level on to the idea of WarmUp. How was the idea presented? Did you ever feel that you had gone too far?

WORK Architecture Company: It was about plus. We wanted to provide shade, seating and a water component, plus. We were interested in seeing how an urban farm could co-exist with the city. We thought of the competition and MoMA PS1 as “the city” and then literally added our project on top of it. We didn’t want to sacrifice anything for WarmUp; we thought of it as a party with a theme where you could build your own narrative. We really brought our own agenda. It wasn’t just a farm; there were solar panels, a cistern for water collection, sound and video environments and a cell phone charging station, as well as many collaborations with students, artists, farmers, scientists, ecologists, chefs, and people who are all really interested in changing the city and the way we eat. We also worked with the HSNY Greenhouse program on Rikers Island, where one-third of our crops had been pre-grown. Two of the program’s graduates became the official farmers for the entire summer. It was the right project at the right time.

MoMA PS1: What was it like working with MoMA PS1?

WORK Architecture Company: At first MoMA PS1 didn’t think we were going to do the farm. To be honest, we’d never planted anything before. We’d never really built anything ourselves, either. We’re not crafty people.
Working with MoMA PS1 was great. There’s one memory that really sticks out. During the building process, we had just placed a sort of skateboard ramp in the courtyard and we were looking out the third floor window with Tony when we saw this clean-cut guy dressed in a suit running straight up the ramp. We turned to him and asked, “Who’s that?”, and he replied, “I think that’s Glenn Lowry!”

MoMA PS1: Dan, you worked after school at MoMA with Terry, correct?

Wood: Yes, I do have a long history with MoMA, that’s for sure. It was nice to be re-united with the family again.