MoMA’s Skater Wall To Use Scrap Wood Shades

Skateboarding may be a big, glitzy X Games-sponsored business these days, but it comes from humble, practical roots. Many surfers-turned-skaters in the ’60s and ’70s engineered their own boards and developed the classic acrobatic moves of today by sneaking into the curved concrete bowls of empty swimming pools across Southern California.

It’s no surprise, then, to see this resourceful, do-it-yourself ethic behind a skateboard-themed pavilion installation planned for this summer at the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) PS1 Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Eco-friendly board manufacturer Comet Skateboards will supply the scrap wood materials for a multistory “Party Wall” that will produce shade and water features for outdoor musical performances.

Artist's conception of MoMA's summer pavilion, made mostly of scrap wood from the skateboard-making process. Image via CODA.

Artist’s conception of MoMA PS1’s summer pavilion, made mostly of scrap wood from the skateboard-making process. Image via CODA.

The design for the Party Wall pavilion, by CODA, the studio of Ithaca, N.Y.-based architect Caroline O’Donnell, was chosen as the winner of PS1’s 2013 Young Architects Program, which annually picks an environmentally conscious design for a temporary installation in the museum’s courtyard. (Last year, you may recall, a spiky blue starburst named “Wendy,” from the HWKN studio, graced the plaza for the 2012 concert series.)

A test wall made of scrap wood, known as "bones" and "blanks," that are the byproduct of the skateboard-making process. Image via MoMA PS1.

A test wall made of scrap wood, known as “bones” and “blanks,” that are the byproduct of the skateboard-making process. Image via MoMA PS1.

The elongated U-shaped patterns of laminated wood to be used in this year’s pavilion are made up of scraps, called “bones” and “blanks,” that are leftover from the board-cutting process at Comet, which is also based in Ithaca, N.Y. These scraps will be woven into tall, angular panels and bolted onto steel frames to form a narrow A-frame structure.

The chief function of the Party Wall will be to beat the infamous New York City summer heat. The vertical walls, with their porous sides, will provide welcome filtered shade, creating never-ending patterns on the ground as the sun arcs overhead. According to a story in Co.Exist, the shadow, at a certain point in the day, will spell out “WALL.”

Artist's rendering of what a nighttime concert will look like this summer at PS1. Image via CODA.

Artist’s rendering of what a nighttime concert will look like this summer at PS1. Image via CODA.

Water will also play a prominent and unexpected role. Underneath the wood and steel panels will be a series of shallow pools, in which visitors can wade and cool off, while tiny nozzles will spray a fine cooling mist from overheard. At various levels within the internal metal scaffolding, the designers will include large, transparent “water pillow” bladders as ballast for the structure. At night, CODA says on its website, lights from inside the pavilion will be directed at the water pillows, which will give off a refracted glow to become part of the musical performances.

The shade-producing "Party Wall" will also include shallow pools and sprayed mist to keep PS1 visitors cool. Image via CODA.

The shade-producing “Party Wall” will also include shallow pools and sprayed mist to keep PS1 visitors cool. Image via CODA.

Around the wall, O’Donnell says she will install small performance stages and benches that are also made from castoffs from the skateboarding process, including uncut boards that contain misprints. CODA’s site says the benches “will be placed in their location by a team of ‘pool-boys’ whose uniforms have been developed in collaboration with American Apparel.”

Whoa, dude! Sustainability as well as interactivity? Sounds tasty, bro.

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.