Contributed by:
Janet Spees
Assoc. AIA

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Critique: This Is Not a Wall

What if the idea of a wall was not to divide, but to unite?

This Is Not a Wall relays the achievement of the temporary pavilion called Party Wall, designed by CODA and winner of the 2013 Young Architects Program organized by MoMA PS1. One of the largest art institutions of its kind, MoMA PS1 focuses on supporting contemporary art in public spaces from its base in New York.

The book’s editors—Caroline O’Donnell and Steven Chordoriwsky—have creatively assembled 75 different perspectives from different stages of the courtyard competition project that paints an illustrative picture of what is needed to see an architectural effort from an idea all the way to something built and experienced.

As they so aptly explain, “Party Wall is not solid; it rises up but supports nothing but itself; and while perhaps a ‘witty’ partition, it offers neither protection from weather nor privacy.”

This book (Cornell AAP Publications) relays what turned out to be a very complicated design-build process through the lens of individual storytellers in an engaging and inspirational way. A reader looking for a light-hearted, relaxing read which takes one back to the days in design studio will find this option enjoyable.

Reviewed by Janet Spees, Assoc. AIA, with Merriman Anderson Architects.