Queens Museum of Art by Elliot White



Elliot White, a 3rd year architecture student at Pratt Institute in New York has sent us these images of his conceptual design for a redevelopment of Queens Museum of Art at the World’s Fair site in Queens, New York.


The design is raised off the ground, creating a public space underneath that can be used for events when the museum is closed.


The building would be constructed using a lattice structure, covered with a layer of concrete.  During construction a huge plastic bag would be inflated inside the structure to support the concrete until it hardened.


The museum is intended to contain a model of New York City’s five boroughs.


The information below is from Elliot White:


This project was completed in the fall of 2008 under the direction of David Ruy and Karel Klein of RuyKlein. The intention was to develop sensitivities to surface conditions. The work included physical and digital modeling experiments in cloth. The site is a redevelopment of the Queens Museum at the World’s Fair site in Queens, New York.  The museum contains a permanent display of a very large-scale model of New York City’s five boroughs.


Unexpectedly the physical modeling of the cloth produced a most interesting and unintended result.  This unexpected result however, provided a fantastic jumping off point for digital exploration. By raising the program off the ground level a public space is created under the building that offers access round the clock, offering space for events even when the museum is closed.


A structural lattice provides ample interior spaces while creating a process that significantly simplifies construction. A plastic ‘bladder’ is inflated inside the structural lattice, then a layer of Concrete Canvass is laid on top, sprayed with water, and sets on the outside of the lattice.


As for the interior, I wanted to create a sense of corporeality.  To accomplish this I have taken the top lines of the interior of the shell and pulled them out in a manner that creates a landscape that must be negotiated in three dimensions.  The interior walls would be constructed out of stacked glass, creating translucent divisions of the rooms.






Posted on Monday February 9th 2009 at 2:57 am by Rachael Sykes. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • thirdyearstudent

    In respond to sj;
    what i am saying is not that we should stop experimenting. But i am tierd of seeing the same experimenting all over the world…(Im at a small school in sweden and i can easily say that we are at the same level of modeltechnic than this, and we started working with maya in october, just sitt 16h/day for 10 days and your here…)

    “Exploration of surface-condition”… Not so sure that students are coming up with that field of exploration by them self all the time. Whats mostly taught in some classes today are blendshapes, subdivs vs. nurbs and so on, not how to create a working public space, that can be new and experimental at the same time. And I am not critizising Eliott in person, more the trend thats going on at schools right now. There must be other things that are interesting to explore than surfaces and forms.

  • Mouse S.

    Bravo …..A great endeavor and project for a third year student. The intended use, Mr White explains, is to contain a large scale model of New York City’s five boroughs. What a curious way to represent the five boroughs inside this structure…an entire city within a skin… rather like the human form.

  • mbird

    First I’d like to say that I would love to enter a building like this someday whether a “third year student” or Toyo Ito created it. As to those of you who think this space is not conducive to art may I remind you of the new Libeskind art museum in Denver! If that can work to showcase art, anything can.

    And to all of you whiney, unsatisified, disgruntled, bitter architects and wannabe architects I say get over your inflated egos and be more encouraging to the next generation!

    What is art and architecture without trends?! Would you snub Renoir because Monet was more well known for impressionism first? Let us not forget about visions and dreams before practicality and budget. Dubai has embraced this notion, why can’t the rest of us?

  • tokyu hands

    I have to agree with a number of the previous posts, displaying student work is important however all we see, especially on this site is the same vague attempts to master 3d modeling software and not the architecture itself. With nearly all the previous student articles we can all see that there really is no substance beyond the initial awe of the renderings. I’m sure Elliot is a talented student but his work at this stage is time is not deserving of publishing. It is just another example then is being regurgitated throughout architecture schools internationally.

  • bauster

    just let them do some panelization and the “thing” is gone…
    museum without context; not for art… just does not fit into the surrounding…

  • Matt

    I think conceptually, it’s a very nice piece, but, as many others have stated, it lacks practicality and to me the spacial planning seems to be completely arbitrary.

  • john

    enough testicules, thanks !

  • Garbanzo

    It’s like a kaola bear crapped a rainbow in my brain!

  • Anth

    i see a sideways vagina…anyway of this being built right next to swiss re?

  • m

    where do you hang the paintings?

  • bob

    dude, stop smoking hadid!

  • HD

    Rock on, Elliot (!) Let the haters hate…do your thing. Interesting concept, I suspect the biggest part of the budget would go to developing the bladder that would hold up the forms; or maybe William Massie’s approach with styrofoam forms for casting. A CNC operator’s dream (!)

  • following the designer words, this could be a plain ORTHOGONAL building
    not wasting millions in peoples efforts to achieve that ameba

  • Hummmmmm, Nice project, i dont know why here, there’s a lot of people against the human mind exploration, remember the old eras when the gothic wasnt gothic, maybe in the past time someone push him mind out of the ambigous and classic way of seen the architecture, and get into the gothic trend. be smarts this project its the reality of our contemporaneous trend of computers, and virtual world inside our minds and electronics machines, why we dont put this amazing project in the virtual space of our life, in a parallel dimension ?……….. dont be dumb get it all of our mind cand imagine and concebir, this is architecture.

  • * Student works should be shared and commented on in public forums like this.
    * Students should be allowed to experiment.
    * It is easy to claim something is derivative because it looks sort of like it falls into one camp or another that critics have typed famous architects into or that architects have claimed as their own. Also note that such claims of derivation seem to be a name dropping game. How many times can we drop the name Zaha Hadid? Perhaps the student was actually inspired by some lesser known work of Jungermann. Or perhaps Hadid is as influenced by her tools as these students are.
    * However, the point of such encouragement is to allow for a broader base of critique.

    So …

    * Buildings have context. Most student projects that get shown off like this are entirely lacking in context. For instance, where in Queens could you even put such a thing, and what sort of dialog would it establish with the surrounding architecture? Would it become nothing but a larger version of Tokyo’s Golden Turd?
    * Buildings have function. Judging from the interior shots of this structure, the only function the building serves is to create space. As someone asked already, where would you hang the art?
    * Buildings, certainly public buildings, need to relate to people.
    * Overlooking these factors is not intellectual experimentation, it is intellectual laziness. On the other hand, learning where your weaknesses are and overcoming them is a critical aprt of learning.

  • to rudedude–that’s exactly what they said about Ghery. I can’t believe how many people are critical of this–just goes to show you how many insecure designers/architects are out there…Aren’t we getting sick of stereotypes yet? Just because this is a student work doesn’t make it any less valid or interesting. I find it refreshing.

  • Eugene

    I don’t think there is anything wrong having student’s work shown here, experimental and radical enough with such guts to do it. After all, are’nt academic works and academic training supposed to be a time for nuturing a habit for endless experimentation?

    Let alone the student finds his way to make sense of it when he gets into professional practice. I say we should not put down students with the care to try different things to intrigue or even inspire many other fellow designers.

  • El Greco

    Look ma! My first Maya project!

    And to all those complaining about criticism of this or any project… we’re designers, not yes men. Feel free to rubber stamp any and all banal projects at school/work as you see fit.

    In terms of the “this can’t be built” argument, please see Toyo Ito’s crematorium (http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=3082629).

  • Anahita

    This is a brilliant job, Good Luck Elliot.

  • AS

    Honestly, do you all remember how you got to become designers and architects? By being a student. You were not born as the skilled professionals that you now are. You relied on education and feedback from others to hone your skills.

    Some of the nasty comments above are so completely unnecessary. Sure there could be a little more discipline to this design, but he’s in 3rd year people… it’s all about unimpeded idea and concept generation at this stage. The how and why will be developed with time. That’s if he makes it to 4th year after receiving so much soul destroying and confidence blasting responses.

    Be constructive with your criticism and STOP being so elitist. You might learn a thing or two from young bright sparks if you removed your head from your asses.

    Keep going Elliot, some bright ideas emerging there! Also a lesson that you can’t please everyone so don’t try to or worry about it!

    And a note to all of you “it’s not original” critics, nothing is original anymore, everything is an adaptation of something. It’s whether or not this appropriation is relevant which counts.

  • I’m jealous.

    Product design stories never get as many responses as the architeture stories.


    Thus is the hierarchy….but I still reckon I could defeat ten skinny be-spectacled black jumper types in fisticuffs any day.


  • Christian

    i have another example for a bitter duplicate.
    look this – http://www.jmayerh.de/work/buildings/metropol/build_in.htm
    and look this – http://www.baunetz.de/diplomderwoche/Parametrisches_Modellieren_649522.html?s_hochschule=56546
    but what should we do

  • aah

    Wow! i guess there is a lot of old blood here…times are progressing, technology is growing. you may be stuck in your miesian and corbusian foundations, but the world is evolving. Yes, this project is quite out of control–restraint is learned as we go–but experimentation is integral in the field of architecture. As architects we should aim to explore the extents of applicable technologies within our field, be it structural, material, etc etc. Again, we all fall into our own desires of exploration, some of us like to follow the trend that has been active for the past 100 years, others look towards new possibilities and have the fortune to try an idea out…which should not be discouraged, especially in the cultivation of the student mind. Quit being so close minded and rather than attack, give constructive criticism that can build the profession into a new branch of exploration.