New York's Socrates Sculpture Park and The Architectural League of New York have announced the winner of their annual Folly/Function competition. This year's winning proposal comes from Brooklyn-based firm School Studio, which has designed a small steel kiosk. Judging from the released rendering, the pavilion will be more functional than those of past years; apparently, it will operate as a sort of information kiosk with branded Socrates Sculpture Park goods. The design imagines a small steel-framed box with enough room inside for a couple of people to sit. The exterior walls are able to slide out from the surface of the kiosk, cantilevering off the structure as signs or banners of sorts. When the walls are retracted and tightly wrapped around the structure, the "mirrored doors of the kiosk" make it so the pavilion "melts into the scenery," according to a press release from the competition organizers. Last year's winner was Ithaca-based firm HANNAH with its suite of 3D-printed concrete furniture. The pavilion will be open for visitors at the Socrates Sculpture Park starting June 17.
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Ithaca-based studio HANNAH has installed a series of 3D printed seats across Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, Queens, for the summer, extending their architectural experiments in large-scale 3D printing to sectional furniture. RRRolling Stones is the 2018 winner of Folly/Function, an annual competition held by the Architectural League of New York in partnership with the sculpture park, and will officially open to the public on July 12. 3D printing is something of a passion for HANNAH cofounders and Cornell University professors Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, and they used Folly/Function to publicize the practical side of the technology. At a full-scale printing demonstration in the sculpture park on July 11, the team discussed the technical challenges in fabricating custom seating that could stand up to wear and tear in the park, as well as the design of the massive printer itself. The seats in RRRolling Stones were designed for maximum versatility. All of the chairs have a graphic silhouette and can be rolled to different angles to accommodate different seating styles. The chairs can also be pushed together to create a modular benching system to accommodate larger events in the park. None of this would have been possible without the printer, a steel frame structure cobbled together for approximately $5,000 from open-source plans on the internet and assembled with help from students at the Cornell Robotic Construction Laboratory (RCL). Material is gravity-fed through a PVC hopper at the top and the nozzle uses an auger to restrict the flow of concrete. The printing arm is attached to a pulley and counterweight so that it can rapidly move up and down. Each structure is printed in thin layers, and the mix of machine vibrations, the viscosity of the concrete, wind, the slope of the floor, and human error mean that no two pieces are the same. Printing the seats and their miniature counterparts involves much more human interaction than a 'set and forget' desktop 3D printer. A human needs to mix the concrete, feed it into the hopper, test the consistency, adjust the print thickness on the fly, and correct gaps and streaks in the prints before they dry. The concrete substrate is a blend of Portland cement, a plasticizer for elasticity, and nylon threads for added strength, making the final mix more of a mortar than true concrete. The smaller printed pieces are freestanding, but the stress faced by the larger chairs meant that HANNAH had to cut and embed custom rebar structures into the full-sized seats. The seats were fabricated at Cornell, and HANNAH packed the interior of each with gravel during the printing to stabilize the chairs throughout the manufacturing process. Lok, Zivkovic, and members of the RCL will be at Socrates Sculpture Park running a printing demonstration tonight from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. under the park’s gantry. Afterward, visitors can take in live jazz as part of the park’s monthly series. RRRolling Stones will be on display for the rest of the summer. Making of - RRRolling Stones from HANNAH Office on Vimeo.
Virginia Overton’s site-specific work at Socrates Sculpture Park rethinks raw construction materials
Sculptor Virginia Overton often transforms chunky construction materials into dynamic pieces of art. In her latest show, Built, she uses steel and wood to explore issues of labor, economics, and the land in contemporary society. Now on view at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens, the exhibition punctuates the waterfront site with large-scale artworks that evoke the industrial past and creative potential of the site. The show’s curator, Socrates’s Director of Exhibitions Jess Wilcox, said Overton’s display not only unveils the artist’s ability to rethink and iterate ordinary objects, it showcases her pragmatic and collaborative relationship to the setting in which she works. “She was interested in working in metal and engaging with the history of metalworking here in the park,” said Wilcox. “She’s site-responsive rather than site-specific in her work because she’s willing to have her ideas evolve when pieces and materials move in an organic way.” As the first female artist to exhibit a solo collection at Socrates, the Williamsburg-based sculptor spent several months riding the ferry to Astoria to study the park and see how visitors interacted with the objects scattered throughout. For her own exhibition, which opened in May, Overton created each piece on site and situated them strategically in the green space to reveal unique perspectives of the Queens waterfront and the Manhattan skyline. Many of the sculptures contain circular forms that act as unexpected viewfinders and feature nature-inspired elements that contrast with the overall industrial aesthetic. Overton took a silver-sprayed Dodge Ram and placed an elegant aquatic feature and fountain in its elongated truck bed. She also suspended an unfinished wooden beam from steel trusses and turned it into an old-fashioned swing set. An upright rectangular structure outlined in steel displays the shapes and colors of various brass, aluminum, and copper steel pipes. The largest piece on site, a 40-by-18-foot, crystal-shaped sculpture, took the longest to configure and was built from architectural truss systems and angle irons. Dubbed 'The Gem', its seemingly heavy form cantilevers over the ground at an effortless slant, giving viewers framed views of the park through its faceted core. Pieces like this offer a new role to the support structures that often go unseen within a building’s construction. According to Wilcox, Overton’s site-responsive sculptures most importantly tie into the greater role Socrates Sculpture Park plays in New York as a former industrial site-turned-recreational space. They speak to the park as part of two larger ecosystems—its function as the physical land adjacent to the East River Estuary and its social component as an alternative arts institution in Queens. The Nashville-native’s work often conveys undertones of her rural upbringing, which easily translates to places like this that have undergone significant evolution since the industrial era. With Built, Overton not only nods to the evolution of these geographic locations, but also the way in which her iterated objects can evolve and be redefined with time. “I think architects will notice more than other viewers how she takes the basic elements of building blocks of construction and reorients them to create something totally new,” said Wilcox. “Seeing the world through Virginia’s eyes is like having your eyes being reoriented towards the world.” Built is on view through September 3 at Socrates Sculpture Park at 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens. Admission is free and open to the public.
In conjunction with New York’s Socrates Sculpture Park’s 30th anniversary, NYC Parks released the renderings for “The Cubes,” a two-story, 2,640-square-foot building that will house the park’s arts education, gallery, and administrative offices—the first permanent home for its facilities. "Once an industrial landfill, Socrates Sculpture Park is now one of the city's most exciting, interactive, and accessible spaces for public art," said NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell Silver in a press release. "With the installation of The Cubes, Socrates will be able to host year-round programming, reaching even more New Yorkers. We're grateful for our partnership with Socrates Sculpture Park and look forward to growing and expanding this cultural gem on the waterfront." The design, by local architecture firm LOT-EK incorporates LOT-EK’s original commission by the Whitney Museum of American Art, which hired the firm to create temporary offices for the museum when it was in the process of vacating the Met Breuer. The initial scheme used six shipping containers in a 720-square-foot-structure, so LOT-EK added 12 additional containers for 18 total to compose “The Cubes.” This architectural process reinforces the park’s mission to promote reclamation and revitalization as part of being a good environmental steward. Additionally, the firm added diagonal glass bands along the sides and roof of the structure, creating chevron patterned windows that offer floor-to-ceiling views of the park and provide transparency to visitors. The roof will feature solar panels. Within the footprint, 960 square feet will be used for an indoor multipurpose and education space, 480 square feet will be transformed into a deck area for outdoor programming, and 1,200 square feet will be offices and administration space. "We are thrilled to create a new home that will expand our programmatic possibilities and secure our future as an arts organization in New York City," said John Hatfield, Socrates Sculpture Park executive director, in a press release. "LOT-EK's design is an innovative contemporary work of architecture that conceptually and aesthetically reflects the Park's history, connects to the Park today, and provides a platform for its future." Currently, the park attracts more than 150,000 people each year with its contemporary art exhibitions and programming that includes an international film festival, dance, opera, jazz, and theater.
To honor its 30th birthday, Socrates Sculpture Park, the former dump-turned-art park on the banks of the East River, is presenting LANDMARK, a summer series of land art installations by eight artists, including a new earthwork, Concave Room for Bees, by New York–based Meg Webster. The series is a reflection on the changing neighborhood surrounding Socrates; the works engage gentrified Long Island City's cultural shifts and interrogate its economic transition. Webster's 70-foot-wide earthwork, which incorporates 300 cubic yards of dirt, attracts the flora and fauna of New York with a sculptural display of various soil compositions, and native flowering vegetation that attract pollinators. Nature-starved visitors can walk through the Concave Room for Bees on loamy paths to get a closer look at ecology in action. Since the 1970s, Webster has created indoor and outdoor work that features elements like water, salt, or moss, all arranged into geometric forms. When this piece is dismantled, the earth will be distributed across the park to give the topsoil a jolt of nutrients. Other works include a new piece, Half Moon, by artist Abigail DeVille, that uses found materials to explore the site's former role as a ferry slip and landfill. DeVille's scraggly shipwreck is a meditation on decay, public neglect, and contemporary issues of migration in Long Island City. Jonathan Odom's Open Seating is a series of 50 open-source chairs crafted from CNC-cut plywood and held together by ratchet straps (Odom created the designs and has released them online for others to replicate, gratis). The chairs, painted in languid pastels by volunteers, give visitors an opportunity to socialize, relax, and enjoy giant installations framed by the Manhattan skyline. LANDMARK is on view through August 28.
The Manhattan-based architecture firm, Hou de Sousa, is on a winning streak this spring. This past March, the firm won Re-Ball!, a competition to repurpose over 650,000 plastic balls from a previous design exhibit into an installation for an abandoned underground trolley station in Washington D.C. (Their playful and interactive wonderland, titled Raise/RAZE, is set to open April 30.) And now the firm has won this year’s Folly competition in New York, hosted by the Architectural League of New York and the Socrates Sculpture Park. The theme this year was “function,” a break from the themes of years past, that drew from the literal meaning of folly: a blend of architecture and sculpture that doesn’t really serve a useful purpose. (These structures were once popular in 18th century England and French patrician gardens.) While the Folly competition is based in New York, it is open to global emerging architects. Hou de Sousa’s proposal, Sticks, addresses the function theme through an adaptable concept. Using interconnected lumber held together with webbing, the design supports an array of repurposed on-site scrap materials that provide shade and 18 inch deep shelves for possible future art exhibits. Their project takes advantage of an adjacent shipping container to help support the structure. It will serve as "a hub for Socrates Sculpture Park’s Education Studio, which hosts over 10,000 students annually," says the Socrates Sculpture Park in a press release. Hou de Sousa will build their project on site this May and June for a July 9 opening in the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens. IK Studio won the competition last year, with the plywood pavilion Torqueing Spheres. Hou de Sousa’s Folly entry last year, Mochi, garnered a Notable Entry for their colorful domed quilt of ravioli-like inflated plastic bags. The Folly competition is privately and publicly supported, with public funds coming in part from the New York State Council on the Arts.
Remember the Battery Park City wheatfield? Conceptual artist is back with a horticultural pyramid in Queens
[Editor's Note: Socrates Sculpture Park on the Queens waterfront installed The Living Pyramid, a public sculpture by Agnes Denes in May, when this article was originally published. They have just announced that they will extend the life of the sculpture through the end of October. The work is Denes’ first since her iconic Wheatfield – A Confrontation in 1982, sited on a waterfront landfill in what is now Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan. Do not miss this chance to see this important artwork before it comes down next month.] Monuments of pre-civilization feats in construction and engineering, pyramids are the latest muse of conceptual artist Agnes Denes who, in 1982, transformed what is now Battery Park City into a two-acre wheatfield. Titled Wheatfield - A Confrontation and featuring the backdrop of a construction site and jostling Manhattan skyscrapers, it’s not difficult to surmise Denes’ intentions. Likewise, her latest project, Living Pyramid resonates with a rebellious call to the wild. Made from soil and thousands of seeds, the pyramid will be erected in late April at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens. On May 17, the public is invited to plant the seeds, which, by early June, will have bloomed into wildflowers and leafy plants. Living Pyramid itself will remain on view until August 30, when cooler weather begins to encroach once again. The sculptural exhibition is Denes’ first major exhibition in the city since Wheatfield, although her work has been displayed at New York City’s prime museums including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum. “What [pyramids] all convey is the human drama, our hopes and dreams against great odds,” Denes said in a press release. “Transformed into blossoms, the pyramid renews itself as evolution does to our species.” Long a fixture in Denes’ work, pyramids are also central to her exhibition In the Realm of Pyramids: The Visual Philosophy of Agnes Denes on view at the Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects from March 14–May 9.
A treetop office in East London’s Hoxton Square park has more in mind than upping worker productivity by exposure to natural light and flora—it’s a political proponent for the rights of nature. Artist, engineer, and New York University professor Natalie Jeremijenko designed the lightweight structure together with artists Shuster + Mosely and architects Tate Harmer. The coworking space can accommodate six to eight occupants simultaneously and is outfitted with Wifi and a power supply. “As a place to work, I can’t think of a better office. It’s a beautiful, airy, delicious space in amongst the chaos of public space,” Jeremijenko told Fast Company. However, the concept’s cherry on top is the tree-as-landlord business model in that tenant's rents are reinvested into the maintenance of the park, the greening of the surrounding area and upkeep of the tree itself. The dollar value of a tree can be computed by quantifying its environmental “services.” These include improving air quality, sequestering carbon, and conserving energy use in buildings by providing shade. In New York City, the monetary virtues of a tree are a measly $400 for 80 years of service, but Jeremijenko believes in the message her project implicitly asserts. “By making it specifically about the tree and what kind of revenue the tree can generate, we’re really exploring a larger political discussion of what are the rights of nature,” she said. Jeremijenko erected a similar contraption in Berlin and one in Socrates Square Park, Long Island City, as part of the Civic Action exhibition in 2012. In a statement on the Civic Action website, Jeremijenko exhorted readers to consider her rhetoric: if the 14th amendment grants personhood to corporations, why shouldn’t trees be extended the same legal entitlement? “If non-human organisms own property, will that change their explicit value in a market-based participatory democracy?” she wrote. TREExOFFICE was launched during the 2 Degrees Festival from 1–7 June where Jeremijenko was the official artist-in-residence, but the outdoor office space is available for rent until December 2015. Use of the arboreal office can be booked online, while local community groups can reserve it free of charge on weekends. Renting a desk for a half day weekday costs $23, while the entire space costs $120.
This year’s Folly installation in New York City bends and twists spheres into an innovative plywood pavilion
The winning proposal for this year's Folly installation at New York City's Socrates Sculpture Park rethinks social interaction in public spaces with a sculptural installation resembling cross-sections of basketballs protruding from a horizontal plane. Torquing Spheres comprises sculpted, intertwined forms whose voluminous curves represent new feats in material techniques: bending plywood in a way that has been common in bending plastic panels. "By cutting out a fold line as well as a hole in the center of the panel, the material edges can be overlapped and mechanically fixed in place by simple bolts," the architects explained in their proposal. Best viewed from above for its juxtaposition of straight lines with complex spheres, the design riffs off the traditional geometry of domes, squinches, and pendentives to make standalone units. "The result is a doubly curving membrane but made by a simple construction technique that creates a monocoque shell that is self-supporting without a structural frame." Each half sphere is a pod resembling a futuristic, design-conscious take on the humdrum and far-from-plush park bench. The proposal is the brainchild of architects Mariana Ibañez and Simon Kim of IK Studio, a Cambridge and Philadelphia-based design and research practice that dabbles in material performance, adaptable tectonics, spatial interaction, and robotics within architecture and urbanism. Torquing Spheres won first place out of 126 submissions from around the world in the annual Folly program, a juried competition held in recognition of exceptional early-career architects and designers. The innovative proposal was selected by a five-person jury of big-name architects and artists, including David Benjamin (The Living), Leslie Gill (Architect), Sheila Kennedy (Kennedy & Violich Architecture), Alyson Shotz (Artist), and Socrates Sculpture Park Executive Director John Hatfield. Torquing Spheres is presented by the Architectural League of New York and Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, and will be unveiled at the park on May 17 from 3:00–6:00p.m.
Socrates Sculpture Park and the Architectural League have selected Jason Austin and Aleksandr Mergold as the winners of their Folly 2014 competition. Commenced in earlier this year and launched in 2012, the contest's name and theme derive from the 18th and 19th century Romantic practice of architectural follies, or structures with little discernible function that are typically sited within a garden or landscape. Austin and Mergold's SuralArk was deemed the most deserving contemporary interpretation of the tradition, and will be erected within the park's Long Island City confines by early May. The winning submission takes equal parts inspiration from an upturned ship hull and a suburban home to arrive at its final form. Measuring 50 feet long and 16 feet tall, the design and its context are meant to speak to the increasingly ambiguous distinctions between city, suburban environments, and rural living. In a nod to its greater surroundings, the structure will be coated in the same vinyl sidings frequently found coating the walls of Queens residences. Such paneling will allow light to filter through the building's exterior, an effect that becomes more dramatic with night fall. The resonance of the ark form grows when one considers the East River's uninvited entry to and eventual submergence of the Park during 2012's Hurricane Sandy. A jury of Chris Doyle, Artist; John Hatfield, Socrates Sculpture Park; Enrique Norten, TEN Arquitectos; Lisa Switkin, James Corner Field Operations; and Ada Tolla, LOT-EK judged 171 entries from 17 countries before choosing the Austin and Mergold design. The pair currently work at a Philadelphia-based architecture and landscape firm that bears their name. They will be granted unfettered access to the Sculpture Park's studios and facilities throughout April in order to oversee the execution of SuralArk which should be open to the public on May 11th and remain on the grounds through August 3rd.
do it (outside) Socrates Sculpture Park 3205 Vernon Boulevard Astoria, NY May 12 to July 7, 2013 Socrates Sculpture Park, in collaboration with Independent Curators International (ICI), presents do it (outside), an exhibition curated by art critic and historian Hans Ulrich Obrist. The exhibition is a selection of 65 artist instructions interpreted by other artists, performers, and the public. The results will be displayed in a site-specific architectural pergola by Christoff : Finio Architecture, a New York based architecture and design studio. do it (outside) connects a diverse group of people who craft remarkable works originally created by internationally acclaimed artists. The outcome ranges from sculptural, to performance-based, to the simply bizarre, and raises questions about and transforming ideas. do it began in Paris 20 years ago as a discussion between Obrist and artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier. Each do it exhibition is site-specific and seeks to engage local communities. Adaptations of the progressive exhibition have been conducted in more than 50 locations worldwide. The twentieth-anniversary show will be the first presentation of the exhibition in New York City and the first to be situated completely outside in a public art venue. The opening coincides with the release of do it: the compendium, a publication that provides the instructions from the exhibition, co-published by ICI and D.A.P.
In just one short year the Folly competition, co-sponsored by the Architectural League of New York and Socrates Sculpture Park, has become vastly popular among members of the architecture and design community, receiving 40 percent more submissions than last year. This year a jury examined 150 innovative submissions but selected only one winning entry. The prize? The winner, with the help of a $5,000 grant, gets to see the proposed design come to life in the Socrates Sculpture Park. Toshiro Oki, Jen Wood, and Jared Diganci of Toshiro Oki Architects were selected as the winners of this year’s competition for their design called tree wood. Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City first established the competition in 2012, asking emerging architects and designers to submit their ideas for a “folly,” a traditional architectural structure or pavilion, typically found in 18th and 19th century gardens. At first glance the folly may seem fanciful, it’s existence nonsensical, but careful observation reveals that the structure was intentionally built and precisely positioned to frame a particular view. This decorative installation not only embellishes an outdoor space, but also shrewdly allows the occupant to enter into a dialogue with his natural surroundings. Toshiro Oki Architects' contemporary interpretation of the traditional architectural folly consists of a simple geometric wooden-framed structure placed in the midst of a verdant thicket of trees. The minimalist man-made structure, made completely of wooden beams held together by 2x4 nails, will be built around the trees and flourishing branches occupying the site, therefore coexisting with, but never disturbing nature. The most enchanting design element of tree wood is the elaborate chandelier that will elegantly dangle from the center of the structure and exist in harmony with the leaves around it. Passersby may occasionally hear the serene musical chiming of the chandelier as the wind softly whistles through the trees, lending a very poetic nature to the folly. In addition to a winner four finalists were selected as well: Pier by Keefe Butler, Elenchus by Julien Leyssene, Curtain Spolia by Georg Rafailidis & Stephanie Davidson, Guesthouse Belvédère by Marc Maurer and Nicole Maurer-Lemmens.