If all the world is a stage, according to Shakespeare, all the city is a kunsthalle in the eyes of the New York City Department of Transportation. Bogardus Plaza, a tiny pedestrian plaza carved out of a little-used block of Hudson Street in Lower Manhattan and named for architect James Bogardus, the inventor of the cast-iron building, just received a well-deserved facelift and has now been chosen to host a prototype art display case designed by Architecture Research Office (ARO).
If the design looks familiar, that’s because ARO designed their sleek new case to mirror the look and feel of the city’s existing bus shelters, newsstands, and benches to create a cohesive streetscape. The stainless-steel-wrapped display features a unique angled edge that creates a playful optical illusion. The rectangular shape is chamfered at the base, meeting the sidewalk at a single, stationary point, standing in contrast to the plaza’s moveable cafe chairs, tables, and potted plants.
“We envision the display panel as a visitor to the plaza, a temporary and flexible element that moves culture out into New York City’s pedestrian spaces,” said ARO principal Adam Yarinsky in a statement. ARO’s design was selected after NYCDOT challenged designers to rethink the museum display case as public furniture.
The display case is on a month-long trial run to test for durability. If it holds up, a series of cases will be fabricated and installed throughout the city in the fall and a new rotating art program will be implemented. The initiative is part of NYCDOT’s Urban Art Program that brings art in unexpected places throughout the city.