A new art installation at MoMa PS1, an extension of New York's famous Museum of Modern Art, is the largest structure to ever be made out of mushroom-based bricks. Quick to produce and made of agricultural byproducts, the bricks leave virtually no environmental footprint. The tower will be up for the rest of the summer and then the bricks broken down and turned into compost, completing a natural life cycle. Sharon Reich reports.
STORY: Most art is meant to last a lifetime. That's not the case with "Hy-Fi." This towering structure is made of biodegradable bricks and will soon become plant food. Designed by architect David Benjamin, the sprouting tower is the largest construction ever built out of mushroom roots and corn stalks. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DAVID BENJAMIN, ARCHITECT, SAYING: "You mix those two things together and in about five days it grows into a solid object and it allows us to have new type of brick that you can make a structure out of but also when you take the bricks apart at the end of summer you can compost." Although these bricks have never been used in a large outdoor structure before, yet Benjamin says they have roots in traditional architecture where organic materials like straw, mud and clay are used for construction. Yet, Hy-Fi is an undoubtedly 21st century structure. Ten thousand bricks create the 40 foot high tower, which is dotted with window openings that let in light. The interior stays cool in high temperatures and it can resist up to 60 mile per hour winds. Just like it's bricks, it's not meant to last forever. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DAVID BENJAMIN, ARCHITECT, SAYING: "Every week we've been taking bricks from the top of the structures, disassembling them, turning them into compost and turning them into soil, which in turn we're using to grow new crops to complete the ecosystem of the project." The design will be taken down by the end of the summer, but Benjamin has achieved a feat, creating a modern building that leaves virtually no environmental footprint.