Streets occupy nearly a quarter of New York City's land, however there are limited outdoor spaces to socialize, sit, and enjoy city life outside of parks. As part of an effort to improve the quality of public space for all New Yorkers, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has been developing new public open space by converting underutilized street spaces into pedestrian plazas. With dozens of plazas already open and functioning across the city, the NYCDOT has been looking to polish the new spaces, installing permanent designs, improved benches, and now, specially designed signs to showcase public art. Ten art display cases were on view from May through late August 2013 at Brooklyn’s Willoughby Plaza—one of the city’s first asphalt strips once dedicated to cars and subsequently transformed into a pedestrian space. The signs were part of NYCDOT's Urban Art Program and were part of its inaugural show titled There is no US Without U. The sail-like panels were designed by the NYC-based architectural and urban design firm Architecture Research Office (ARO) and were fabricated by Rhode Island–based custom composite construction leader Goetz Composites. Each panel is composed of three integrated elements: a sail-like field material involving an anti-graffiti coating, beveled panel edges clad in stainless steel, and stainless steel panel bases connecting the panels to the ground. The idea takes inspiration partially from recreational equipment and incorporates materials typically associated with boats. DOT sought a prominent boat builder to collaborate with the design team to create the construction details and assemble the prototype, which was exhibited last year at Bogardus Plaza and Water and Whitehall Plaza. Through an art therapy program at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, veterans created the featured artwork shown on the new display kiosks. The exhibit will now be moved other public spaces around New York City. All images by James Ewing / Courtesy NYCDOT.
Posts tagged with "Public Art":
If you drop by the Cleveland Public Library to get lost in a book, you may find reprieve from modern life outside the library’s walls, thanks to a giant reading nest custom designed by New York artist Mark Reigelman and LAND Studio. The installation is the fourth in a series, called "See Also," which brings public art to the library's Eastman Reading Garden. It will be in place through October 18. The whirlwind of 10,000 palette boards and two-by-fours comprise a roost 13 feet tall and 36 feet across, reinforced with steel cable. Made from reclaimed wood from industrial sites in the Cleveland area, the nest creates an intimate, sheltered environment for reading or for staring at the perfectly framed sky.
The ongoing efforts of artists and designers to reignite the spark of downtown development in aging industrial cities face no simple task. But as architects and developers begin to put pencil to paper, the best public art projects draw on the spiritual side of that renewal. Flint, Michigan’s inaugural Free City Festival, held May 3-5, did just that when it revived a mile-long stretch of now-razed Chevrolet plants with public art, transformational lighting displays and a reverberating gospel choir. “There was a such a sense of heaviness about this space. It was a place where so many people worked,” said Stephen Zacks, executive director of the Flint Public Art Project. “It’s a kind of cleansing experience, for it to no longer be a blank space.” They installed more than 75 projects, including work by NAO, Srjdan Jovanovic Weiss's firm, Boston-based architect Jae K. Kim, Flint’s Freeman Greer, Ann Arbor-based architect Catie Newell of Alibi Studio, New York-based architects Matthias Neumann and Natalia Roumeliotian, and an inflatable shelter by Michael Flynn modeled after Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago (above). The festival was produced with funding from ArtPlace, a consortium of national foundations in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The organizers are looking for sponsors to help repeat their success next year. It isn’t the only public art plot to rejuvenate the one-time home of General Motors. Recently London-based Two Islands took first place in the inaugural Flat Lot Competition, floating plans to erect a mirror-clad foreclosure icon that would douse a downtown public square with cool mists on hot summer days. “There are things people think they know about Flint, but aren’t really reflective of the city today,” Zacks said. “If we can create great spaces, we can start to consolidate a new image and identity of the place.”
Starting Memorial Day, Chicago's Millennium Park will host the U.S. debut of a bright array of public design projects, many of which appeared at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good will feature 84 works, including more than a dozen for Chicago and several that also appeared in Venice. One Venice Biennale carryover will be the slew of pull-down banners created by Brooklyn design studio Freecell and Berkeley-based communication design firm M-A-D. An “outdoor living room” for Millennium Park, designed by Wicker Park firm MAS Studio, is among the new installations. The space will serve as an outpost for the exhibition, according to MAS director Iker Gill, shading visitors with a canopy of more than 700 moving acrylic panels with a lively color palette. Local woodworker John Preus of Dilettante Studios will salvage lumber for the wood support structure and seating. The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events brought the design contest to Chicago for its first U.S. showing. Programs will take place at the Cultural Center, in the pop-up pavilion in Millennium Park, and at various offsite locations through September 1. Here’s a video of Freecell and M-A-D’s banner project from the biennale:
Yesterday, brilliant sunshine, a gentle spring breeze, and 65 degree weather set the scene for the inauguration ceremony of Orly Genger’s remarkable new art installation, titled Red, Yellow and Blue, in Madison Square Park. As you navigate your way through the park you will find yourself surrounded by a fanciful scene, as vibrant undulating walls arch into blossoming trees, spill onto lush lawns, and unfurl all around you. “Orly Genger has woven her magic throughout the park,” said Mayor Bloomberg, who spoke at the inauguration ceremony. The large-scale project was installed as the latest chapter of Mad. Sq. Art, a public contemporary arts program presented by Madison Square Park Conservancy that aims to revitalize the park as well as the surrounding community. “[Red Yellow and Blue] is both innovative and environmentally sustainable. It is projects like this that are a big part of what gives New York City our identity and attracts visitors to our city,” said Bloomberg. The intense physical labor that was involved in the crafting of the massive rope-walls that enliven the park’s verdant lawns is as incredible as the end product. Genger and her team of assistants spent 9,000 hours in a Brooklyn warehouse tirelessly hand-knotting 1.4 million feet (equaling almost twenty times the length of Manhattan) of re-purposed nautical rope that was collected from lobster fishermen working along the New England coastline. The thick bands of hand-knotted, or “knit,” rope were painted using 4,000 gallons of red, yellow, and blue paint, and then transported to Madison Square Park where they were layered one on top of the other using steel supports. Three individual structures were then fashioned on-site to respond to the landscape of Madison Square Park. Genger’s work communicates an interesting paradox. The artist implemented a historically “feminine,” domestic practice of knitting to create burly structures that dramatically transform the park and immediately weave visitors into this dynamic outdoor environment. “For Madison Square Park I wanted to create a work that would impress in scale and still engage rather than intimidate… The tradition of knitting carries the sharing of stories and the installation draws on that idea. The repurposed rope brings with it the stories of different locations and by knotting it, a space is created for the words and thoughts of viewers in New York City to complete the work, creating a silent dialogue that waves along,” explained Genger in a statement. Red, Yellow and Blue is the New-York based artist's largest work to date. The installation will be on view at Madison Square Park all throughout the summer, until September 8, 2013, after which Genger will re-imagine the installation to fit Massachusetts’s deCordova Sculpture Park.
In June a full-block surface parking lot in downtown Flint, Mich. will house a ghostly, floating home — a monument to the ravages of the foreclosure crisis and a nod to the revitalization public art projects like this one hope to further in the one-time home of General Motors. London-based Two Islands took first place in the inaugural Flat Lot Competition, which comes with a $25,000 prize, for their design, Mark’s House. The story of an imagined Flint resident named Mark Hamilton, whose family loses their home to foreclosure, Mark’s House takes the form of a Tudor-style house clad in reflective panels and set atop a mirrored pedestal. The structure can hold 1,500 gallons of water to be used for cooling mists for visitors to the structure’s canopy and event stage on hot summer days. The design-build competition, launched last fall by Flint Public Art Project and AIA-Flint, called for a temporary structure that would take up no more than eight parking spaces, and would support public programs in a city whose population peaked in 1960. Flint’s Mayor Dayne Walling hopes the design community will help transform public space in the ailing former industrial town, and international buzz for the competition appears to have been a good start. Organizers said they fielded 221 entries from dozens of countries. Three other projects received honorable mention: Stage a Lot by KSE Studio (Sofia Krimizi and Kyriakos Kyriakou) of Brooklyn, NY; Building Bodies for Work by Wes Janz, Tim Gray, and Andrea Swartz of Ball State University; and AC.H2O by Mike Ting of British Columbia, Canada. These projects and 17 others will populate an exhibit alongside Mark’s House to open April 12 during the Flint Art Walk. The built Mark’s House pavilion will open June 14.
Seattle is about to get a new public art installation on the walls of SAM, the Seattle Art Museum. The museum that created the nearby Olympic Sculpture Park—one of the best public art spaces in the country—has commissioned artist Doug Aitken to install a new reflective wall on the corner of their building at First Avenue and Union Street. Aitken calls the wall installation Mirror and it is meant to "reflect the energy and movement of the city." The piece consists of a large LED display wrapping the building's corner facade and up the building's primary wall with scenes slowly filmed by Aitken of "images, surfaces, locations and landscapes." These digital views will then be reduced to minimal compositions and alternate with empty landscapes and dense urban scenes of the Seattle region. Further Aitken has programmed the piece to be "conditioned and programmed by local "weather information, pedestrian traffic flow, atmospheric conditions and traffic density. The digital facade Aitken imagines will be "like choreography with no music" and allows the images to "define the composition and patterns in real time and into the future."
The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is expanding its programming to the streets of Fort Greene. Brownstoner reported that the multi-arts center is proposing a series of temporary murals in front of an empty lot at 31 Lafayette Avenue, across from one of its performing arts spaces, the Howard Gilman Opera House. BAM plans to launch the program with a mural by Brooklyn artist KAWS, and then invite other local talent to display their art. There will also be space made for more of David Byrne’s sculptural, letter-shaped bike racks akin to the ones he designed in front of the Peter Jay Sharp Building. Community Board 2 will vote on the art wall tomorrow.
Next week, the fifth iteration of the Times Square Alliance's Valentine Heart installation will officially open to the public. Brooklyn-based Situ Studio revealed their installation, Heartwalk, in January, which will be built with salvaged boardwalk boards from from the Hurricane Sandy-stricken Rockaways, Long Beach, Sea Girt, NJ, and Atlantic City. The Situ team has been busy removing hardware from the weathered planks and planing them for a smooth surface. The pre-assembled pieces will be taken to Times Square for assembly, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on February 12 at 11:00a.m. According to a statement from Situ Studio, "Visitors can enter the installation itself and literally stand in the heart of the world’s greatest city."
New York-based artist Leo Villareal is creatively illuminating the constructed form. In Madison Square Park, Villareal's LED light-up geodesic dome, Buckyball, stands tall, undamaged but unlit after Hurricane Sandy. The Madison Square Park Conservancy told AN that the lights are expected to be back on tonight. And soon, Villareal also plans to light-up a far larger construction on the West coast: the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The 30-foot tall Buckyball consists of two nested spheres created by a series of adjoining pentagons and hexagons resting atop a large platform. Each sphere is built using LED tube lights over a metal frame. Random mathematical sequencing allows the tubes to change color and create over 16 million different shades across the geometric sculpture. The spheres will be on view in Madison Square Park through February 1, 2013 and is typically lit up from dusk till dawn. The sculpture was powered down during the recent storms. Meanwhile, Villareal is also working on his next project titled The Bay Lights. This light installation will cover the San Francisco Bay Bridge, creating light patterns visible to residents on either side. Meant to celebrate the bridge's anticipated 2013 East Span completion, 25,000 white LED lights will be placed along its 1.8 mile span and climb up the 500-foot high steel cables. Shifting light patterns will be displayed from dusk until midnight for two years, visible from afar but hidden from crossing drivers. The grand lighting scheme is planned to open in early 2013.
Now this looks like a good idea: a group of architects and engineers called Urban Air are trying to turn a billboard next to LA's 10 Freeway into a suspended bamboo garden. The technique: they remove the signage, install planters and then the bamboo, and then install water misters and sensors to make sure it's properly irrigated. Voila! If it's successful with the first sign the group wants to create similar gardens across the country. The ambitious plan is being crowd-funded through Kickstarter and with 46 days left has raised nearly $6,000 of its $100,000 goal as of this publishing. You can check out their Kickstarter campaign and contribute here.