Posts tagged with "Public Art":

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Inside Archtober "Building" of the Day #24: Subway Vent Benches

Even though Hurricane Irene blew through on August 27th without flooding the subways, which were rendered prophylactically still and silent for a day, a pesky summer storm in 2007 dumped so much water onto the M and R lines that they were forced out of service. Governor Spitzer took immediate action to mitigate the problem, and boldly mobilized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Department of Transportation to do something about it. Solving a range of engineering problems while at the same time providing a streetscape element with some wit and whimsy, Rogers Marvel Architects created banks of raised stainless steel grates that rise up into an undulating wave of slats and hammered speckled side walls. There are three typical grates designed for specific water overflow depths. They can be combined in a left- or right-hand fashion to create the continuous surface over the structural grates below. In case you were wondering, they won’t stop a truck, but happily no Louboutin heels snapped off here! The AIANY Design Awards jury liked it too, giving the project an Honor Award, citing: “This is a really utilitarian solution infused with public art and design innovation.” For the info on the tour of tomorrow’s Building of the Day click here: Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.
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High Art: Kim Beck's The Sky Is the Limit/NYC

Just after 4:00p.m. Sunday afternoon, cryptic messages visible for miles around Manhattan were written in the sky, spelling out, among other things, "Last Chance." Out of context to millions in the streets below, the messages were slightly unnerving and deliberately vague. Curious speculation as each giant letter was traced into the sky led many to wonder what the message actually meant: An ad? A terrorist's warning? A persistent marriage proposal? It turns out the display was part of an art project by Kim Beck called The Sky Is the Limit/NYC and sponsored by the Friends of the High Line. The Pittsburgh-based artist and professor, already familiar to High Line fans for her recent empty-billboard-inspired Space Available project, had a series of messages drawn straight from advertising billboards written in an otherwise cloud-free sky. Messages included "Everything Must Go," "All Sales Final," and "Space Available." Beck referenced The Wizard of Oz's ominous sky-written "Surrender Dorothy" as a mirror to our own unease over the economy. She also noted the opportunity for positive change in creating community: "When, in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, a crowd gathers to piece together skywriting, the spectacle unites disparate groups, as they cluster together to find meaning in the urban landscape. I am looking for folks to become a part of it by taking pictures." A common sight around New York, certainly, was the skyward-staring cluster of pedestrians. While The Sky Is The Limit/NYC is undeniably a sobering commentary on the current state of America's economy, Beck also wanted to ensure a poetic quality to the display's open-ended presentation and fleeting quality of fading smoke. While Beck began with the likes of "Last Chance," the project ended on a brighter note with "Now Open."
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Pictorial> A Nature-Dominated Office in Denver

It might be the latest trend in creative modern eco-office design or, more likely, it's a tongue-in-cheek reminder to avoid letting work take over your life. In the typical modern office with row upon row of geometric cubicles, the closest a worker might get to nature is a small potted plant, a faraway glimpse out a window, or a rainforest background on his or her computer. But a new installation in downtown Denver quite literally breaks down this man-made environment in an effort to promote outdoor activity and a connection to nature during the workday. Boulder-based architecture firm Tres Birds Workshop created the five-part installation called Natural Systems Domination in July from old office furniture covered in live plants, evoking an office—perhaps abandoned by workers who left to find nature—where nature has found a way back into the work environment. From the architects:
Domination implies taking over. If we had it our way, natural systems would dominate entirely. Natural systems operate in perfect efficiency. Humans are both part of those natural systems and also somehow separate (by choice). The further we stray from connections with nature, the more alien we become.
The installation is part of sustainability-minded Keen Footwear's "Recess Revolution Tour" and represents a collaboration with Green Roofs of Colorado and the Fabric Lab. All of the office equipment from chairs and tables to an old copy machine was purchased from second-hand stores and was donated back after the installation was complete. Plants were also reused in the community. (Via TreeHugger.) Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.
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Sculptures by Sol LeWitt Stand Tall In Lower Manhattan

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg and a cadre of arts enthusiasts from the Public Art Fund gathered at City Hall Park to officially open a retrospective on conceptual artist Sol LeWitt titled Structures, 1965-2006. Comprised primarily of sleek white cubes and forms and one colorful Splotch, the installation of 27 sculptures represents the first outdoor retrospective of LeWitt's work as well as the largest public art display at City Hall Park, billed by Nicholas Baume, chief curator for the Public Art Fund, as New York's "museum without walls." Joined by Baume and LeWitt's wife and daughters, Bloomberg strolled through the park grounds to take in the striking white works of art, many of which have never been publicly displayed in the United Stated before. LeWitt's Structures, with their ruggedly geometric forms, seem at once a seamless part of the surrounding urban and natural landscapes. “City Hall Park and its environs in Lower Manhattan offer a perfect location to reconsider LeWitt’s structures,” said Baume in a statement. “His geometric, white forms contrast with the organic, picturesque park setting, while they also resonate strongly with the surrounding Manhattan grid and the stepped profiles of its signature skyscrapers. The later work, with its complex and irregular forms, anticipates the vocabulary of more recent architecture, including Frank Gehry’s undulating new tower at 8 Spruce Street.” A variety of modular and open cubes, the breakthrough pieces for the artist in the 1960s and 1970s, are scattered about the park, their scale defying the outward simplicity of their form. Complex Forms, with sharp angular edges recall many recent Manhattan skyscrapers such as the Bank of America Tower, and LeWitt's late, colorful work--Splotch 15--defies categorization. Take a look at many of the sculptures in the gallery below. The exhibition is ongoing through December 2, 2011.
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DUMBO Gets "Treehouse"

If you’re in DUMBO this week and catch a glimpse of a shirtless man hanging off a tree, don’t freak out. VAMOS Architects has curated an installation of photographer Robert Holden’s series The Treehouse, as part of New York Photography Week. The large-scale photographs depict semi-nude members of a rainforest commune, set against industrial buildings, rooftops, and scaffolding in DUMBO. The series is meant to let New Yorkers contemplate an alternative lifestyle, according to the artist’s statement. “It shows a commitment to live a life away from chaos, from monetization and find happiness carrying our existence where the highest value is not money or objects that define our status and class,” writes the website Yatzer, which declares that Holden’s subjective documentary approach “makes us reserve an immediate ticket through Kayak.” The Treehouse consists of 49 photographs tucked away in dark alleyways and splashed onto the sides of tall buildings. VAMOS worked with over 20 entities, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Two Trees Management, St Ann’s Warehouse and Powerhouse books, to get permissions for the installation. The series is on view through May 31, 2011. Upon closing, the installation, which was designed to be zero-impact, will be disassembled and donated to other art projects and schools. "Sometimes architecture is not about building," said Evan Bennett, principal of VAMOS. "We hope the installation's brief life in the neighborhood inspires people to experience their place in the city in new and thoughtful ways."    
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Quick Clicks> Icelandic Sculptures, Painted Trees, Carnegie, and Parklets

Icelandic Borders. Today at 5PM, "the largest temporary public art exhibition... in New York City Parks history," titled BORDERS, will be unveiled at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza. The UN-conscious installation is a collaboration between the Parks Commissioner, an Icelandic Ambassador, and Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, consisting of 26 androgynous, life-size sculptures. Painted Trees. Gerry Mak of Lost at E Minor adoringly shares the curious images of the vibrantly painted trees around Colorado by artist Curtis Killorn. Because of the unexpected colorings, these trees do not look like they came from land, but from the sea. Green Carnegie. We were worried when gbNYC reported that the good ol' Carnegie Hall is planning to undergo a massively ambitious, full-spectrum retrofit this year. But don't worry, the architecture firm Iu + Bibliowicz, which is in charge of all this, swears to preserve "the building’s distinctive 19th-century architectural grace notes" while making dramatic green building improvements. Parking to parkletting. The SF Examiner reports that more temporary public spaces, called 'parklets,' are exploding throughout San Francisco parking spots. The public battle between those who want to park cars and those who want to seat customers out on the sidewalk seems to have a clear winner-- the Department of Public Works is stamping out countless approvals for businesses to have their own parklets despite complaints.
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Quick Clicks> Vital Arts, Freeway Down, Arguing Art, and Metro Card Art

District Review. Blair Kamin reports on the Dallas Arts District - the nation's largest contiguous urban arts district - and finds the architecture inspiring but the street life a bore. In an area where Pritzker-winning architecture abounds, can a new park and residential development create urban vitality? Freeway Down. NPR reports on the mainstreaming of highway teardowns across the country. With skyrocketing infrastructure costs, many cities find removing a mega-road is more affordable while preserving neighborhood character and spurring new business. Public Art Confidential. WNYC takes a look at the story of public art in New York and the controversy that can follow as times and values change. Dueling sides argue the benefits of provoking thought on difficult subjects versus giving artwork an appropriate stage to do so. Among the eight most contested statues in New York is the long-toppled King George III once located in Bowling Green. Multi-Use Metro Cards. Subway Art Blog has a pair of recent galleries showing how you can reuse your old Metro Cards, either by adding to your wardrobe or creating collage artwork.
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Space Available on the High Line

This Friday, three massive billboards will debut along the High Line, but instead of blasting consumerism, the art installation by Kim Beck hopes to provoke visitors to think of public space. From the High Line: "Kim's work will encourage park visitors to reconsider the water towers, exhaust pipes, HVAC systems, roof decks, green roofs, and other building elements that are integral components of the cityscape views along the High Line." Called Space Available, Beck will install three "skeletal" blank billboards. Experiencing the signs from different angles can provide the illusion of three dimensionality, when in fact each sign is really flat.
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Towering Beacon Awaits Approval in Miami Beach

You won't see German artist Tobias Rehberger's proposed Lighthouse installation at this year's Art Basel exhibition in Miami Beach, but if the city approves the project next week, the towering beacon could be lighting up the night sky by the end of 2011.  To be located in South Pointe Park at a cost of $500,000, the 55-foot tall Lighthouse is comprised of stacked cylinders and would represent Rehberger's first public commission in the United States. [ Via The Art Newspaper. ]
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A Thousand Drops of Light in Madison Square Park

Upon first stumbling across this massive array of 2,000 LED lights encased in standard light bulbs in Madison Square Park a few weeks ago, I thought holiday decoration had come a little early to the Flatiron's front yard, but as shadowed figures began moving across the field of light, it became apparent that this installation by artist Jim Campbell was something special. Situated on Madison Square Park's Oval Lawn, Scattered Light consists of a three-dimensional grid of light spanning roughly 80 feet by 16 feet and standing 20 feet tall. When viewing the installation from the front, programmed LED lights flicker in sequence to create the illusion of shadows walking through the park. Moving around the artwork causes the image to blue and abstract as the grid moves in and out of focus. Scattered Light video by specialkrb / YT: Scattered Light video by Craig Dorety / Vimeo: The installation is one of three public art projects by Jim Campbell on display in Madison Square Park. Here's more information about the other two from the Madison Square Park Conservancy:
Broken Window, the second installation, will be situated near the main entrance to Madison Square Park at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue. An array of LEDs encased in a glass-brick wall (70”h x 70”w x 10”d) will create illuminated images that appear to glide across the glass plane, reflecting the movements of the city around them and echoing the aesthetic poetry of the Scattered Lightinstallation. Situated on the eastern lawn adjacent to Madison Avenue between 24th and 25th street, Voices in the Subway Station, the third installation, will feature LEDs encased in two dozen glass tablets (14” x 18” each) arrayed across the lawn at ground level. The light pulses emanating from each tablet will be rhythmically modulated to represent the voices of individual travelers as recorded in conversation on a subway platform, combining to create a visual symphony rendered in light.
Each of the three installations offers an abstracted experience drawn from the urban environment that's at once distant but right at home and it's worth an evening stroll through the park to experience them for yourself. The installations will be on display through February 2011. Interview with Jim Campbell from Switched: Voices in the Subway video by Craig Dorety / Vimeo: Broken Window video by lessthanrita / YT:
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Night Lights on the Schuylkill

An array of glowing orbs has descended on Philadelphia's Schuylkill River to interact with curious passers-by.  Light Drift, a temporary installation by Meejin Yoon and Eric Höweler of MY Studio, will pulse blue and green on land and just off shore through Sunday, October 17. Each glowing orb has been outfitted with LED lights and electronic devices that allow communication across the glowing system and engagement with onlookers.  Sensors on land detect a person's presence, changing the color of orbs floating in the river.  From the City of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program:
"As viewers engage and occupy the orbs along the park, the grid of lights in the water becomes an index of the activities on land. Multiple viewers can create intersections of linear patterns, encouraging viewers to “play” with each other. These orbs bring the community together by providing gathering spaces for watching the river turn into a flickering constellation, creating new connections on the river’s edge. "Light Drift creates an atmosphere, a field of lights that transform in color and intensity based on the public interaction with it. The resting state of the field is a constant state of green. When a visitor approaches a land orb, the orb will start an “enticement mode” by pulsing between blue and green. If a visitor sits on the orb, the pulsing will transition to a blue state. The water orbs that align with the land orb will change colors at the same time, creating a linear extension of blue lights in the water. Because the orbs are arranged on a diagonal grid, the lines of lit orbs will form a series of intersecting lines in the field. The intersection of lines of lit orbs in the water will encourage different people interacting with the orbs to also interact with each other."
An opening reception takes place tonight at 6:30 on the Schuylkill Riverbank between Market and Chestnut Streets.  When the temporary installation wraps up Sunday, it could move to Boston's Charles River.  Ultimately the non-toxic PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) shells will be recycled. Look for more information about the Light Drift installation in next week's The Architect's Newspaper.
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Flowers and Recycled Planters Transform a Step Street in the Bronx

A formal dedication for a creative urban intervention called ARTfarm brings flowers and greenery to a formerly barren step street in the Bronx.  Architects Valeria Bianco, Christian Gonsalves, Shagun Singh, and Justin Taylor designed and built the project  with help from Architecture for Humanity and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Drawing inspiration from a nearby farmers' market, ARTfarm recycles wooden cabinet doors and crates into 59 planters for a variety of plants and transforms a concrete and stone stairway into a lush tiered garden. ARTfarm received $5,000 in funding from the New York Department of Transportation Art Program, pARTners.  The program seeks to transform New York's public realm through art and design to create a safer, more inviting streetscape. “From concrete step streets to chain link fences on ordinary street corners, we’re bringing art to streetscapes citywide to redefine these in-between spaces,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan in a release. “With the help of our local partners, New Yorkers are rediscovering slices of neighborhoods near and far through colorful artwork that makes these places more attractive, welcoming destinations for everyone.” ARTfarm was built by local school children, community residents, and Architecture for Humanity volunteers and will be in place for eleven months.  The installation is located on Step Street at 165th Street and Carroll Place in the Bronx.