City of Tomorrow, a two-day summit in New York conceived by Hundred Stories and 92Y, will tackle timely topics like resiliency, the “we” revolution, and culinary innovation’s role in urban placemaking. Over 50 experts, including architects, local restauranteurs, city officials, designers, and real estate developers, will gather on March 15 and 16 to talk about what it’s going to take to create a healthy future for New York. “This year’s dialogue focuses on themes none of us can afford to ignore,” said Robin Dolch, president of Hundred Stories, in a statement, “resiliency for the city, urban solutions for the decades ahead, prioritizing the people and community in our planning, the lessons biology can teach us about building better and wellness strategies at the forefront of everything in real estate and design.” Now in its third year, the symposium features a comprehensive lineup of talks led by an even more stacked list of speakers. Annabelle Selldorf and Rafael Viñoly will headline an architecture keynote address alongside principals from SOM and Bjarke Ingels Group, while emerging leaders in the field like Danei Cesario, Alda Ly, and Jenny Sabin will talk about coworking, nature, and wellness. AN’s own editor-in-chief Bill Menking will moderate a panel on innovation and the built environment, featuring speakers from Oiio Studio, ShoP Architects, and more. The discussions taking place at City of Tomorrow will cover not just buildings, but also how food, tech, nature, and art play into a city’s success. Award-winning chefs José Andres and Missy Robbins, as well as Marcel Van Ooyen of GrowNYC, will talk about creating developments with culinary destinations, while Shin-pei Tsay of the Gehl Institute and Tim Tompkins from the Times Square Alliance discuss urban planning and innovation. Architect Stefano Boeri and Martin Bechthold, PhD, Harvard’s Kumagai Professor of Architectural Technology, will also discuss what animals and plants can teach humans about building better. Panels with titles like “The Future of Retail,” “What’s New in New Development,” “Real Estate Mysteries Revealed,” and “Paint the City” allude to more of the expert knowledge on New York living that will be shared during the two-day conference. For a full listing of speakers, check out the event website. Registration is still happening and can be found here.
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As the contentious U.S. midterm elections taking place on Tuesday, November 6, fast approach amid numerous accusations of voter suppression and disenfranchisement often along lines of race and class, at least one city is proactively making it easier to vote. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority has just approved free public transit on election day to help encourage people to turn out to the polls. This is especially important in California, which has a number of ballot initiatives impacting housing and the environment. Ballot initiatives in California this November include Proposition 1, which would expand resources for veteran housing; Proposition 2, which would implement a 1 percent millionaire’s tax to help support mental health services, housing initiatives, and other resources for homeless people; Proposition 3 which would authorize nearly $9 billion in bonds for spending on water infrastructure and other environmental initiatives; and Proposition 10 which would allow local governments to implement rent control. The decision to expand voter accessibility in Los Angeles comes at a time where various forms of voter suppression and disenfranchisement are being brought to light across the country, including the intentional disenfranchisement of certain people who have served jail time, voter roll purges in states like Georgia, and gerrymandering districts to turn them red, such as in North Carolina’s 13th district. Some sources have also spread misinformation on the day the elections take place, such as in Suffolk County, New York, where a mailer from Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin featured the wrong deadline for absentee ballots (it’s November 5). Voter ID laws in many states have been accused of preventing lower income and minority voters from being able to enact their right to vote. In North Dakota new ID and residence rules, upheld by the Supreme Court, have been argued to be systematically targeting Native Americans. Relocating where people go to vote is another method that has been accused of attempting to prevent voter turnout. The ACLU has been brought a federal lawsuit over the choice to move a polling station for Dodge City, Kansas, whose population is majority Latinx, to a difficult-to-access location outside of the city limits. Similar moves to make voting hard to access, especially for people without flexible work schedules or easy transportation access, have been seen across the country, particularly in areas that have larger populations of people of color, as well as urban centers that tend to be more diverse and liberal-leaning. Los Angeles's announcement came as New York's Citibike announced that their bikes would be free to use for all on election day. Motivate, Citibike's parent company has announced that services in the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Jersey City, Portland, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C. would all be free on November 6 as well.
This month is LGBTQ History Month and to honor it The Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York featured a panel about historic sites associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights movement at this week's MAS Summit in New York City. Every year, the conference explores how present-day issues can be informed and challenged by historical advocacy. On Tuesday the ninth annual program featured a lecture led by the co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, Ken Lustbader, who, in his own words, is trying to put LGBT history on the map by “looking at it through a rainbow lens.” Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, a police raid at the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village. Lustbader recalled that the riot wasn’t the first at the Christopher Street institution, but one that is especially remembered for the days-long protest where patrons were inspired to fight back, forever marking the N.Y.C. neighborhood as the unofficial cradle of the LGBT rights movement. Stonewall Inn is just one of the places the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project documents in its interactive map of historic and cultural sites associated with the community in all five boroughs. From the Angel of the Waters statue atop the Bethesda Fountain—an 1860s masterpiece by lesbian sculptor Emma Stebbins and the earliest public artwork by a woman in New York City—to Carnegie Hall—the venue famous for hosting countless performances and works by LGBT artists—the list of historic sites reaches way beyond bars and clubs. Continuously being added to, the network of hundreds of locations illustrates the richness of the movement’s history and its influence in the United States. Covering sites dating from the city’s founding in the 17th century to the year 2000, it currently lists 5 locations in Staten Island, 12 in Queens, 123 in Manhattan, 8 in Brooklyn, and 4 in The Bronx. The 150 pins presently live on the map can be filtered by cultural significance, neighborhood, era, and LGBT category. The organization also offers themed tours that rotate throughout the year, including ones on Jewish New York, Transgender History, and The AIDS Crisis. Many of the movement’s historic sites were unappreciated and a vast majority remain completely unknown. Landmarking LGBT sites comes with its own set of unique challenges. When a potential landmark cannot be evaluated on architectural grounds alone, a site's social history can be difficult to establish because of a lack of proper documentation of LGBT sites. According to Lustbader, there’s historically been almost no record of various sites keeping because of stigma and fear of exposure. There’s another caveat: proving identity and gender can be difficult for LGBT people. Today, there are now 17 LGBT-related sites of the more than 93,000 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Lustbader and fellow project directors Andrew S. Dolkart and Jay Shockley confronted these challenges with 25 years of LGBT-specific research conducted by historic preservation professionals and numerous outreach events and crowdsourcing opportunities to develop a step-by-step guide to evaluate state and national LGBT register listings. The guide and all of their research can be accessed in the Historic Context Statement for LGBT History in New York. Discover hundreds of places that represent NYC’s LGBT past on nyclgbtsites.org. Each site contains descriptive historical accounts, contemporary and archival photographs, related ephemera, and multimedia presentations. Happy cruising!
A small sliver of urban infrastructure has been both the bane and blessing of one city in Central New York for 60 years. Interstate 81, an 855-mile-long highway stretching from Tennessee to the U.S.–Canadian border, sliced through downtown Syracuse upon its completion, sparking generations of socioeconomic segregation. Today, the viaduct that hovers over Syracuse’s urban core has reached the end of its functional life, spurring residents and the state’s department of transportation (NYSDOT) to consider next steps for the consequential corridor and how reimagining the site might transform the city in dramatic ways. This isn’t a new transportation tale, but the decisions made in Syracuse could have a major impact on the health and wealth of its locals. For nearly a decade, conversations have centered around three options for the deteriorating viaduct: replace it with a new overpass, build an underground tunnel, or design a street grid that slows traffic through downtown Syracuse and thereby spurs development and a more walkable city. One grassroots group calling for the street grid is Rethink81. They’ve created a digital narrative that paints a clear picture of the city’s wrought history with the highway and what its future could look like. Renderings of the street grid site show new buildings, a green street, and a bike path that extends south on Almond Street in between downtown and University Hill. The street grid seems like the eco-friendliest and fiscally responsible option at $1.3 billion, but many are against it. The DOT estimates that a new elevated highway will cost $1.7 billion but take nearly ten years to complete. Some upstate members of the state legislature even favor the tunnel despite its hefty price tag of $3.6 billion, according to consulting firm WSP Global. The latest discussions—from Albany to Syracuse—center around whether the tunnel idea is still truly on the table. "It's the million dollar question," said Jason Evans, associate principal at Ashley McGraw Architects and member of ReThink81. "The tunnel seems like an excessive investment to make for what would essentially be a duplicate route for traffic to bypass downtown.” Both the tunnel and rebuilt viaduct would allow cars to zip through the city at the same rapid pace as they do today. But that’s just the problem, says Syracuse University architecture professor Lawrence Davis. The city’s biggest issues stem from the fact that hardly anyone lives, works, or plays in downtown. The mass exodus of white residents to the suburbs after World War II caused investment to be drawn away from downtown. To this day, the suburbs remain Syracuse’s wealthiest districts. “This is a vitally important thing to study because a lot of American cities are going through a similar thing and are taking a cost-benefit analysis of their infrastructure,” said Davis. “I’m arguing that the city of the future isn’t so much a concentric city but a multicentric city that’s built in the interest of everybody and provides a variety of neighborhood types.” When the viaduct was built, it cut off Syracuse’s lowest-income residents, members of the largely African American 15th Ward, from the new developments that have risen over the last several decades. This has contributed majorly to the city’s rising poverty rates. Ranked the 13th poorest city in the nation in 2016, it’s also one of the worst places for black Americans to live, according to data from 24/7 Wall Street last year. These stark realities date back to the decision made to build the highway in 1957. Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, Central New York chapter director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), helps educate the local community and university students on the multilayered segregation that’s resulted, and how this modern moment in Syracuse’s history could help end the physical and financial isolation so many people feel there. “A highway isn’t naturally discriminating against everybody, but it creates a number of issues,” he said. “The car has literally split the city and made parts of it less desirable for development. If you look at these constituencies and their effective income, they are living this way because nothing’s been done to provide equitable opportunities for housing choice, economic mobility, or inclusion. It’s caused generational poverty.” Abdul-Qadir and the NYCLU are putting together an expert team of lawyers, urban planners, and project councilors that will continue to fight on behalf of Syracuse’s underrepresented populations as the I-81 debate moves forward. “This isn’t just an urban movement or a policy movement,” he said. “It’s a human rights movement and we’re trying to build momentum.” As of July, the NYSDOT was working on a new environmental impact statement that details how the three options will affect the city. A draft is expected to be complete by early 2019, at which time the public will be able to weigh in with commentary.
A fire broke out at the Statue of Liberty Museum construction site on Monday, forcing 3,400 people to evacuate New York’s most famous tourist attraction, reported CBS News. The incident occurred on the north side of Liberty Island where the 26,000-square-foot museum, designed by FXCollaborative, is currently being built. According to the FDNY, three 100-pound propane tanks caught fire around noon yesterday where a new security screening facility is under construction. Work was being done on the roof of the building, which sits about 200 feet from the base of the statue, during the time of the fire. None of the tanks exploded due to the accident but one construction worker was injured. It took firefighters two hours to contain the flames. Set to open next May, the $70-million museum is being developed by the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior. The existing museum, which is laid out inside the statue herself, can’t accommodate the number of tourists the site sees per day. The new expansive design will be able to hold over 1,000 visitors per hour and will include three gallery spaces covering 15,000 square feet of the facility along with an outdoor plaza and a green roof that doubles as a terrace overlooking the monument. The museum will also sit above 500-year flood levels and feature exterior materials that can withstand hurricane-force winds and inclement weather. As of 2 p.m. Monday, the island opened back up to visitors and work resumed on the scene. The site has been under construction for just over a year by Phelps Construction Group and is on track for a spring 2019 opening.
Offshore wind power may finally be coming to the U.S. if recent developments are any indication. Relatively common in Europe, the technology is still rare on this side of the Atlantic, with just five turbines operating in U.S. waters. That may change, however, as several northeastern states have set offshore wind energy goals and have greenlit several key projects. Yale Climate Connections recently reported on potentially bright developments in the industry. The state governments of Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey have all put in place mandates that will require those states to draw a certain amount of their electricity from offshore wind farms as part of broader sustainability goals. Other New England states are pushing forward projects that would generate hundreds of megawatts of power (for reference the Hoover Dam generates approximately 2,000 megawatts). Connecticut and Rhode Island approved a 400-megawatt project, and smaller projects are coming to Long Island and Maryland. While offshore wind farms may finally be getting their moment, similar efforts seem to consistently get doomed from a wide range of opposing forces. The Navy opposes turbines on much of the West Coast. Conservationists have piped up against plans in the Great Lakes. Although New Jersey had created an offshore wind goal in 2010, the initiative sat dead under Governor Chris Christie, who was apparently not motivated to pursue such projects. NIMBY groups and the fishing industry have killed plans before, to say nothing of politicians who generally oppose any moves away from fossil fuels. Still, falling costs and gradually evolving attitudes on alternative energy may be finally tilting the political landscape in offshore wind's favor. If these New England projects come through, they may set a precedent for other developments across the country.
This fall, the Cutchogue New Suffolk Library will be hosting an exhibition on the modernist homes sweeping North Fork, a beach community on New York's Long Island. A New Wave of Modern Architecture on the North Fork will catalogue the work of six architects and firms who have completed modernist projects across the enclave. Columbia art history professor Barry Bergdoll previously curated Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive at the Museum of Modern Art. A New Wave of Modern Architecture on the North Fork will open with a wine and cheese reception on September 7 and will run through September and October at the library’s rotating exhibition space, the Upstairs Gallery. The architects featured will include SO-IL, Shenton Architects, Joseph Tanney and Robert Luntz from Resolution: 4 Architecture, who specialize in prefabricated modern homes, William Ryall of Ryall Sheridan Architects, Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Tang Architects, Allan Wexler, and John Berg of Berg Design Architecture. New York design firm 2x4 will be designing the exhibition, and the Friends of the Cutchogue New Suffolk Library, a group of patrons and businesses who support and help program events at the library, will be hosting the event. While the bulk of the exhibition will cover work in the area designed after the year 2000, homes by Tony Smith and the sharply-angled houses of Charles Moore will be mentioned on a text panel at the show's entrance.
The shores of New York and New Jersey are, as Hurricane Sandy demonstrated in 2012, particularly vulnerable to flooding, sea level rise, and extreme weather events. Coastal construction has become more resilient (though some question to what end) and flood prevention ideas both big and small have been floated to protect the area’s shores. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed several different approaches to preventing flood surges using gates and berms in and around New York Harbor, and environmentalists are sounding the alarm. The proposals are part of the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, a 2,150-mile survey of the region’s most vulnerable areas. The Corps has put together five schemes—four that use storm barriers, and one “as is” projection—and is soliciting feedback from New York and New Jersey residents with a series of information sessions this week. In designing floodwalls for New York Harbor or the Hudson and East Rivers, the Corps will need to balance ecological concerns with property protection; nonprofit clean water advocacy group Riverkeeper has called the Corps “hard infrastructure” solutions, those that use concrete barriers, detrimental to the health of the harbor and its waterways. The Hudson River is technically a tidal estuary and not a full-fledged river. Salt water from New York Harbor, and in turn the Atlantic Ocean, flows back up through the Hudson and mixes with fresh water from tributaries upstate to create a nutrient-rich environment. If the Corps's plan to install a five-mile-long gate across the harbor’s mouth between Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and Breezy Point in the Rockaways came to pass, Riverkeeper argues that the barrier would slowly cut off nutrients from the harbor and prevent contaminants from washing out into the ocean. “From Day One, these offshore barriers would start to restrict the tidal flow, contaminant and sediment transport, and migration of fish. They would impede the tidal ‘respiration’ of the river. We fear that a slow death would be inflicted on the river and that in time, the barriers would slowly, but surely, strangle the life out of the river as we know it.” The Corps alternative plans include: building berms, dunes, and seawalls across the lower-lying sections of the New York-New Jersey waterfront, with small floodgates across a few waterways; a barrier across the Staten Island-Brooklyn gap spanned by the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge and gates along Jamaica Bay; and targeted berms and seawalls across targeted low-lying coastal areas without any gates. Creating a centralized approach to flood prevention could be more effective than the piece-by-piece method currently being enacted but comes with its own set of risks. If a massive gate were installed to prevent flooding, it would need to be closed more and more frequently as sea levels rise and would increasingly cut off New York and New Jersey’s waterways from the ocean. Planning for a storm that currently has a probability of occurring once every hundred years may be futile as storms of such intensity become increasingly common. Seawalls have been linked to increased erosion, and if water builds up behind the wall, it can be hard to fully drain the affected area. The Corps is looking to identify a scheme to move forward with by the middle of this summer. However, with a possible price tag of $20 billion and several years of construction likely, whether or not the Corps can follow through is unclear. Interested New York and New Jersey residents can learn more at the following information sessions: Monday, July 9th, 3-5 PM and 6-8 PM at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in Tribeca, Richard Harris Terrace (main floor) 199 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007 Tuesday, July 10th, 3-5 PM and 6-8 PM at Rutgers University-Newark Campus, PR Campus Center, 2nd Floor, Essex Room 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ 07102 Wednesday, July 11th, 6-8 PM at the Hudson Valley Community Center in Poughkeepsie, Auditorium Room 110 South Grand Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Rammellzee (1960–2010), a seminal New York artist, is finally getting his due with the expansive and explosive two-floor retrospective RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder at Red Bull Arts New York. The celebration of this multi-hyphenate artist, writer, and musician is no staid, white cube exhibition. The paintings, sculptures, videos, drawings, and ephemera that comprise the exhibition are brought to life in a deservedly elaborate space designed by studioSTIGSGAARD, helmed by its namesake architect Martin Stigsgaard, also of Voorsanger Architects. Though perhaps no longer as well-known as some of his contemporaries, Rammellzee was certainly renowned in the downtown scene in the 1980s and 90s. Referred to as the “King of the A Line” for his tagging chops during his early street art days, he collaborated with the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat (who designed the album art for one of his music releases) and appeared in numerous films, including Jim Jarmusch’s cult classic Stranger than Paradise (1984). At the peak of his notoriety and commercial success, Rammellzee rejected art world trappings and retreated to his Tribeca loft, which he called the Battle Station, where he would spend 20 years working on his Gesamtkunstwerk, a constantly evolving mythical world. Stigsgaard’s design, which was developed in close collaboration with curators Max Wolf, Carlo McCormick, Candice Strongwater, Jeff Mao, and Christian Omodeo, honors the legacy of Rammellzee’s Battle Station, without trying to replicate it, something they felt could not be done by anyone except Rammellzee himself. Instead, Stigsgaard tried to “create a framework...to set his work off,” relying on the body of work to bring visitors into his world while still providing an intelligible timeline and order in an immersive environment. Upon entering the exhibition space you are confronted with a tunnel of mesh walls with irregular, geometric apertures that create a spatial “compression.” Stigsgaard says this references not only a subway tunnel, the site where Rammellzee first began mobilizing language by tagging the A train in Far Rockaway, Queens, but also a tank firing range, apt for an artist who felt that he was leading a war against the cultural tyranny of the alphabet. Down the tunnel are some of Rammellzee’s early visual works, as well as a script he developed, and an original 12th-century manuscript. The manuscript serves as a touchstone for Rammellzee’s approach to language as a visual, and eventually, performative and spatial, practice and his self-identification as a “gothic futurist.” He was constantly fighting against normative order—his own manifesto Gothic Futurist describes the symbolic battle of letters against the alphabet’s stultifying standardization, as realized in his graffiti and his later Letter Racers. The central upstairs gallery manifests Rammellzee’s military obsession and his invented linguistic theory of “Ikonoklast Panzerism.” For this space, Stigsgaard used what he described as Panzerkeil formations, which refer to a V-shaped arrangement of tanks used by the Germans on the Eastern Front. The formation leads to a strong exterior defense with a weaker interior. Here, the formation acts as the parti for the exhibition space; the structure presents a full-frontal approach for larger work with a more intimate interior to observe smaller pieces, simultaneously organizing the space and causing one to be “put off balance.” The formation’s visual logic extends even to the angular vitrines and other details. The final stage upstairs exemplifies the unorthodox use of lighting in the exhibition. Shifting on a timer, the lighting in this last space goes between the usual white light to black light that makes Rammellzee’s paintings and sculptures pop and glow. As you come around towards the stairwell, you see Rammellzee’s Letter Racers, hung ready for battle, spiraling downstairs. These Letter Racers are 26 fighter plane-style assemblages of detritus and consumer goods mounted on skateboards and remote-controlled cars, each a letter in Rammellzee’s invented alphabet. Light confronts you in your face as you take their mass in. This is hardly unintentional. As Stigsgaard says, “It's not about creating a comfortable lighting. I like that you get a big blast in your face. This is not a white box, ordinary gallery. You need to be a little bit thrown off.” The downstairs takes on a more cave-like quality. Ceilings are low and the space is almost unnervingly dark. We have entered the physical realization of the 25th century, a major era in Rammellzee’s extensive cosmology. Metal mesh walls that conceal and reveal—again in Panzerkeil formation—are on islands of what at first appears to be stone or gravel, but upon closer investigation are shredded tires. Here are perhaps the most memorable pieces in the exhibit, his Garbage Gods, full-scale armored sculptural costumes made of found objects and sidewalk trash. This cast of characters each has their own place within Rammellzee’s sci-fi mythology, with personalities he would adapt by wearing and performing the costumes. In the rear of the space is a glowing polystyrene “rock formation” that holds scale model Garbage Gods in its niches. This strange hybrid of natural and artificial, urban and prehistoric, creates a space that Stigsgaard describes as “outside of time.” The gothic meets the space-age, suits accumulate and reconfigure the histories of the found objects that comprise them, boundaries breakdown and time falls into itself—both in Rammellzee’s art and in the design of the space. After passing the final massive Garbage God, slivers of red light hint at an additional space. Though relatively large, tire shreds take up most of the room, allowing you just small passage. At dead center is a pyramid. Suspended on acrylic it seems to be floating. Red light hits its reflective surface, again creating an almost blinding moment. Lurking in the right corner is another Garbage God and at the right is one of Rammellzee’s bricolage luggage pieces. The room certainly feels significant and has a certain stillness, but without reading the wall text the space’s real weight might be missed. This pyramid is an urn, designed by Rammellzee, to contain his own ashes. This Garbage God is Reaper Grimm. This luggage is what he wished to carry into the next life. It is here, with Rammellzee present, that you realize this is no mere exhibition; this is a temple, or perhaps even, a mausoleum. RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder Red Bull Arts New York 220 West 18th Street, New York, NY Through August 26th
Today, Manhattan’s historic Trinity Church commenced an approximately two-year restoration project. The last restoration of the church occurred over seven decades ago in 1946. New York’s Murphy Burnham & Buttrick is leading the restoration of three-century old church. Trinity Church is one of the oldest parishes in New York City. The congregation moved to its Richard Upjohn-designed Gothic Revival house of worship in 1846. Since then, Trinity has built three additions to Upjohn’s original design, including the All Saints’ Chapel. Upjohn was a cofounder of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a prodigious ecclesiastical architect in New York and New England. The nearly $100 million project will bring the church to contemporary accessibility and environmental standards through the construction of wheelchair-accessible ramps along the church’s entrances, gender-neutral restrooms, and a new steel-and-glass canopy adjacent to the south elevation. While a significant portion of the project is dedicated to new alterations, Murphy Burnham & Buttrick are fully repairing and restoring the church’s stained-glass windows, redesigning historic pews, and replacing non-original clerestory fenestration. Additionally, the church’s chancel will be adapted to Upjohn’s original design, boosting seating capacity by 140 seats. In a statement, Trinity Church Vicar Reverend Phil Jackson said the decades of deferred window maintenance shrouded the church’s interior detailing under a layer of shadow. Through the restoration, Jackson hopes to highlight the nave and main body’s impressive Gothic rib vaults and collenettes by giving “back its light.” Murphy Burnham & Buttrick has amassed a wide scope of residential and religious restorations across New York City, including an expansive top-down project for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which involved the conservation of interior and exterior masonry and stained glass windows, and even the insertion of a nine-well geothermal plant below the cathedral. During the restoration process, Trinity Church’s nave and main body will be closed off to parishioners and visitors. The project is slated to be completed by spring 2020, and Trinity Church hopes to reopen the nave soon after.
On May 26, MoMA is opening Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams, the first retrospective of the late Congolese sculptor and artist’s three-decade career. Born in 1948 in what was then the Belgian Congo, Kingelez was known for creating what he termed “extreme maquettes.” The exhibition will feature over 30 of these maquettes, built of colorfully detailed everyday objects, ranging in size from individual buildings to miniaturized utopian cityscapes, some measuring over 70 square feet. Kingelez’s work is described as attuned to world events, versed in contemporaneous architectural trends, and knowledgeable of foreign vernacular forms. For example Kinasha la Belle (1991) incorporates a distinctively Dutch gabled house wedged into a pastel-coloured circular residential complex, sporting cardboard pendants and a markered frieze. Towards the end of his career, Kingelez’s work grew more adventurous in terms of scale and material composition. MoMA points to Nippon Tower (2005) as a particularly idiosyncratic architectural model by the artist, built of “a plastic Smint box, packaging from a milk carton, BIC razor blades, light bulb boxes, and a playfully shaped spoon.” The cityscapes created by Kingelez are diverse in their architectural forms and scales. Crafted of plastic, paper, and paperboard, Ville de Sete 3009 (2009) is a futuristic city populated by shard-like, sheer, and terraced skyscrapers, which are connected by an illuminated network of Haussmannian boulevards. Ville Fantome (1996), Kingelez’s largest cityscape on display, will also feature a virtual reality component developed by Third Pillar. Through VR, visitors will be able to traverse through the utopian city which Kingelez described as “a city that breathes nothing but joy” and “a peaceful city where everyone is free.” City Dreams is curated by MoMA’s Sarah Suzuki and Hilary Reder, and closes on January 1, 2019.
Starting May 2, New York-based creative studio PLAYLAB, INC. is decking out the glass canyon of Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan with a broad stroke of color in the form of giant, inflatable flowers. The public art installation is sponsored by the Avenue of the Americas Association. GROWN UP FLOWERS consists of six different inflatable pieces, which PLAYLAB describes as “sitting, lounging, floating, standing tall or even bending down to greet passerbys” between 44th and 55th streets. PLAYLAB hopes to harken back to Manhattan’s pre-colonial landscape, one where the “island was covered with wild and beautiful flowers.” As a result of their gargantuan size, the installation’s flowers will be able “to compete with the scale of their surroundings.” Each of the six flowers is assigned a unique stance and personality. For example, Jack of 1221 Sixth Avenue measures 30 feet in height and “loves to draw portraits.” Wilt bends towards passing bystanders and enjoys “all kinds of people and can be a little bit of a talker.” PLAYLAB, INC.’s projects often activate public space with interactive installations, including giant slinky-like tents for the Storefront for Art & Architecture and an ongoing collaboration with Plus Pool to design a water-filtering floating pool on the East River. Inflatable Images, an Ohio outdoor advertising company specializing in custom inflatables, fabricated the oversized flowers. The colorful installation will be up through June.