31 Phillip Lim; Photo: SFDS
“We’ve poured 17 tons of concrete and had it cured in 24 hours,” says Eric Winston, founder of SFDS Fabrication & Design Shop, listing one of the many large-scale, rapidly-built projects the Greenpoint-based fabricators have daringly taken on with success. Speaking with Winston, you’ll find he likes to categorize his work according to two factors: “craziness” and “difficult”. That project a pop-up beton runway for Phillip Lim, ranks somewhere among the shop’s top “craziest” endeavors–rightly so, given the sheer mass of material and the speed with which it was manipulated and set. But it pales in comparison to what he calls the most mental project–both in terms of crazy and technical difficulty–he’s worked on, Pier 40. SFDS built the 150,000 square-feet structure in just 4 1/2 weeks–in the dead of winter, no less–completely wired with electrical and plumbing systems, enclosed with walls and custom windows, and furnished with red carpet.
Pier 40; Photo: SFDS
On the other hand, Wendy, SFDS’ latest project, was a “crazy, but not a complicated build”, according to Winston. That isn’t to say the construction wasn’t fraught with false starts and delays, not to mention the rainy conditions that plagued the project from day 1. To that latter point Winston expressed the most concern, saying that “we were building a giant lightning rod in the middle of rainstorms”.
Photo: Michael Moran/OTTO ©
No, what made Wendy “crazy” was the coordinating of multiple parties that each came to the site with their own tasks. “We started from scratch,” when Knippers Helbig drilled their gigantic ground screws into the MoMA PS1 courtyard on May 23. “Then one little thing came up after another,” as the players and the components involved added up. All along the 5 1/2 week build, SFDS found themselves “modifying everything”, from the placement of Wendy spiky blue cones (“They was no give or play with them”) to the installation of the Big Ass Fans (“They were too wide for the bays”) and, most frustratingly, the tiered pools that had to be rebuilt after a construction mishap.
Photo: Iwan Baan
Still, the quality of the construction team and the work was “top-notch”. SFDS delivered Wendy on time and modeled as closely to the architects’ original vision as possible. “Going in, I wasn’t sure we would get to there,” Winston says, gesturing to the initial Wendy renderings. “But, we hit it right on.”
Want to know more about what makes Wendy work? Head over to MoMA PS1 this Sunday, August 5th, to meet the construction team behind this year’s Young Architects Program winner. The panel, moderated by Matthias Hollwich and Marck Kushner of HWKN, will kick off at 2 PM! For more on SFDS, visit their website here.
[Disclaimer: Wendy was designed by Architizer-sister company HWKN]