Art Outdoors: Architecture and Public Art
Jul 3, 2013

Students stand in sun and watch street installations.

YI Summer participants gather around Thomas Schutte’s United Enemies (2011), on view in Central Park, July 2013. Photograph by Kate Nadel

On July 3, Youth Insights Summer participants explored the Whitney’s unique architecture. As we searched for architectural details, we noticed the placements of the walls, materials, and more. After our exploration, we gathered in the Whitney Studio to discuss what goes into designing architectural structures. We looked at examples from the Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1, an annual competition that gives new architects the opportunity to build projects in the MoMA PS1 courtyard.


Next, we were given a template of MoMA PS1, glue, paper, scissors, and instructions to design and build a model of our own structure for the courtyard. Not knowing what I wanted to do with the space was a lot of pressure, but my hands just began to build model walls everywhere. I created a maze that I enjoyed making. At the end of the project, each of us had created a different structure: bridges, closed areas, walls, and more. We came to realize that everyone viewed the activity differently and we all had different questions about architecture and the design process. Luckily, we knew that that on Tuesday, July 9, we would be meeting an architect—this year’s winner of the Young Architects Project—and we would be able to get some answers. 

Students viewing street installations.

Sketching United Enemies (2011), from the first of two different angles, July 2013. Photograph by Kate Nadel

Next, our discussion turned to public art work and what that meant to us. As we are all currently living in New York City, we see public art everywhere. We learned about several organizations that commission public art in locations around the city. Soon after, we went on a walk to Central Park to come face to face with public art, in this case, Thomas Schutte’s United Enemies (2011), a sculpture that millions of New Yorkers and tourists see every day. We gathered around it to draw from two different angles and talk about its meaning. It was fun applying our new knowledge about public art to a specific sculpture.  

By Michelle, Youth Insights Summer participant