Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient MarinerThough New York has the some of the cleanest municipal tap water, New Yorkers now consume 1.25 billion bottles of water annually. A contributing factor to the rise in bottled water consumption is the decline in the number of public drinking fountains. New York–based Pilot Projects would like to revive the grand tradition of public bubblers through a novel design/build competition. Pilot Project's 100 Fountains competition, launched September of this year, will tap artists and designers to build 100 fountains citywide in 2016. Each participant receives $5,000 to develop his or her team's design. According to the project proposal, the competition area will be divided into 30–40 zones, with two or three fountains per zone. The public judging period starts June 2016 and runs through September 2016. The original fountains will be auctioned off for charity, and ten designs from the pool will be chosen and duplicated for permanent installation at to-be-determined locations citywide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFq8z96zbQQ In 2012, Pilot Projects hosted a campaign to raise awareness around the lack of drinking fountains. In the video above, passerbys in Union Square traipse over a red carpet to a (pre-existing, functioning) fountain operated by white-gloved servers. Per a 2007 zoning text amendment, the Department of City Planning (DCP) requires a fountain in every newly-built Privately Owned Public Space (POPS). The report suggests that, in lieu of vending machines offering sweetened beverages and bottled water, designers should incorporate public drinking fountains into the POPS. To justify their economic reason-for-being, 100 Fountains points to large-scale public art installations that overtook city streets in the late 1990s and 2000s: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, Olafur Eliasson's New York City Waterfalls, and CowParade. The economic impacts of these project were estimated in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. 100 Fountains also takes direct inspiration from the Minneapolis Arts Commission. The commission highlighted Minneapolis' connection to surrounding rivers and lakes by installing ten custom fountains to celebrate the city's 150th anniversary. Pilot Projects will partner with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department of Education, Office of the Arts and Special Projects, as well as Yale University’s Environmental Protection Clinic and Parsons The New School For Design to carry out the project. Expect to see fountains on the streets beginning June of next year.
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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.
Landscape projects now have the option to shoot for the stars. Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) has announced the first three projects to be certified by what is to-date the most comprehensive system for rating the sustainable design, construction, and maintenance of built landscapes. SITES is a collaborative effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the United States Botanic Garden designed to fulfill a critical need for sustainable guidelines in this environmentally sensitive field. Created by some of the country's leading sustainability experts and design professionals, the SITES system rates on 15 prerequisites and 51 additional, flexible credits. Stars are awarded based on percentages of total credits earned by redeveloping brownfields or grayfields, soil restoration, water conservation, use of recycled materials and native vegetation, and sustainable construction and land maintenance approaches. Projects can obtain up to four stars through the newly established system. Acquiring the highest levels may test the determination of designers, as they are more elusive than one might think. Of the pilot program's first three certified projects, only one was worthy of multiple stars. The Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee, designed by James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), focused on bioretention and the use of recycled and reclaimed material from the site. Designed with children in mind, plant restoration and play equipment has been situated to encourage discovery and engagement. The project completed at least 40 percent of SITES guidelines and obtained one star. The Green at College Park at the University of Texas also focused on restoration. Primarily used as a gathering area, the design adapts off-site drainage issues to irrigate its drought tolerant planting palette. The Green also completed at least 40 percent of SITES requirements and obtained one star. The headquarters of Novus International preserves and enhances natural habitats, improves hydraulic conditions, and fosters a sense of community among employees at the corporate campus. The project team tapped the University of Missouri to monitor the natural conditions of the site including green roofs, wildlife identification and water quality. Of the 250 total points, the project received at least 60 percent of the credits necessary to obtain three stars.