For over three years, New York City has anticipated the debut of Hudson Yard’s enigmatic “Shed”: the eight-level, 200,000-square-foot art center with a massive, telescoping outer shell. On April 5, the new center will finally open its doors, hosting a variety of exhibitions, lectures, and events related to the performing arts, visual arts, and pop culture. The innovative building was jointly designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group. Its sleek, flexible, and mobile layout was inspired by the industrial past of the High Line and West Side Rail Yard, and the building’s form is intended to physically transform depending on artists’ visions. Its blueprint includes two levels of gallery space, a multipurpose theater, a rehearsal space, a creative lab, and a 9,500-square-foot sky-lit space for large-scale events. Reminiscent of a train car, the building’s semi-transparent outer shell can glide along rails onto a neighboring plaza to nearly double the building’s footprint for grandiose concerts and performances. The massive light, sound, and temperature-controlled hall can be used as a blank slate to support artists' and performers’ most creative and ambitious ideas. “We have built a home where established and emerging artists working in all disciplines can create new work in ways that we cannot even imagine,” said The Shed’s Artistic Director and CEO, Alex Poots. The venue will host an assortment of events ranging from comedy shows to concerts. The first year of programming will include lectures by filmmaker Boots Riley, a Björk concert directed by John Tiffany, and a Kung Fu musical featuring songs by Sia. The building will be named to “The Bloomberg Building” after a generous, $75 million donation from Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor who oversaw the dramatic gentrification of Manhattan’s Westside and Hudson Yards. With only three months until its launch, The Shed will go through the final phases of construction, which includes the installation of metal cladding and other architectural finishes. Correction: A previous version of this article said that The Shed's name will change, but only the building the institution is housed in will be known at The Bloomberg Building.
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What’s most surprising about Rockwell Group’s design for R17, the new speakeasy-inspired lounge atop Lower Manhattan’s Pier 17, is that it’s not flashy. In contrast to the stand-out building it’s housed in, the 1,830-square-foot restaurant and bar provides a chic setting for cocktail and wine lovers to casually get a drink after work without being inundated by the holiday crowd that’s currently shrouding the South Street Seaport district. While the majority of the structure’s rooftop will transform next week into a veritable winter wonderland complete with New York’s newest ice-skating rink, the bar itself is designed to maintain an aura of intimacy. At least, that’s how Rockwell Group envisions it. “We wanted to create a calming atmosphere that people could escape to,” said Senior Interior Designer Renee Burdick, “similar to how New Yorkers might escape to a cabin or chalet upstate during winter.” But that vision is completely seasonal. For The Howard Hughes Corporation, the group that owns the mixed-use development, the design team crafted a “pop-up” space that will transition in both style and setting from a winter pavilion into a summer pavilion. While R17 can only accommodate around 70 people now, when it’s floor-to-ceiling sliding doors are open in the warmer months and the dining area expands onto a tiered terrace, the space effectively quadruples in size, increasing capacity to 300. The current cabin vibes, created thanks to low-lighting, fur pillows, dark-hued furniture, and textured wool rugs, will be replaced with a lighter material palette and beachy upholstery. The large fireplaces will become settings for playful art installations. This “transformative” approach to interior architecture is very site-specific, said Rockwell Group. Not many hospitality projects have the bandwidth to literally flip the space throughout the year. “The programming shift here is enormous,” said Richard Chandler, associate principal and studio leader at Rockwell Group. “It will have a completely different look and feel in the summer. We'll add new pieces to the design every year so it’ll always be evolving.” Some things about the lounge will stay the same. Its anchoring design feature is a blue onyx-topped bar with a sand-colored wavy tile that serves as siding. Burdick says it’s designed to look like a mountain skyline. These two elements bring a feel of fluidity to the space, along with the large-format printed tiles on the floor, that contain brushstrokes of blue, silver, and gray. The motif of movement is continuously carried out on the ceiling and windows, which include metallic threads and gilded wood-and-metal screens respectively. These help tone down the bright sunlight that may stream into the space during the day and shield restaurant-goers from the lively scene going on outside, which Rockwell Group will outfit with a temporary bar and lounge that’s reminiscent of a ski lodge interior. These “warming huts” will be shaped to mimic the urban water towers found atop buildings across the city. Much like these locally-inspired building shapes, R17 boasts an array of city, state, and American-made materials that complement the mountain chalet and Long Island beach home concepts. The space serves as a new living room for the city—with arguably the best view of the Brooklyn Bridge in all of Manhattan. It doesn’t have a flamboyant entrance and isn’t suffocated by the bright, technicolor lights that glare out of Pier 17 at night. It’s an understated, flexible space that’s simple and luxurious. Although, in the summer, Rockwell Group plans that the expanded scale, along with the pier’s popular summer concert series, will bring a different kind of festive and potentially exclusive energy to new bar and restaurant. According to Chandler, we'll have to wait and see.
Ahead of its spring 2019 opening, The Shed has selected 52 emerging artists in New York City for its inaugural Open Call program. The cultural organization announced the news on Monday, unveiling the chosen individual artists and collectives and how their work will be integrated into Open Call. “We launched Open Call with the intent of creating a meaningful opportunity for emerging artists to make new work,” said Tamara McCaw, chief civic program officer at The Shed. “A fundamental part of our mission is to engage our local communities and support New York City’s diverse talent.” Each artist, either local to New York or showing work in the city, will be allocated a stipend between $7,000 and $15,000 based on the scope of their proposed projects. The commissioned work will be displayed throughout The Shed’s principal performance venues, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group, during the 2019 spring–winter season. Theater and dance performances will be held inside the building’s black-box theater, while art, sculpture, and other mediums will be situated within the 12,5000-square-foot, column-free Gallery 1. Larger-scale performances, also including theater and dance, as well as bigger art pieces will be shown in the 17,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor plaza. Over 900 applications were submitted for Open Call over a three-month period starting last March. A panel of nearly 30 New York–based designers, filmmakers, academics, artists, and performers came together to review the proposals, including The Shed’s main staff. All exhibitions and programs on view during its first year will be free and open to the public. You can learn more about the artists and their planned work here.
Rockwell Group’s design for the recently opened Blue School in New York City falls outside the lines of traditional design for primary and secondary education, especially in the cramped Big Apple. While the school includes many basic elements such as closed-door classrooms and a sizable cafeteria, the one thing the architects were expected to uniquely incorporate for the private school, which was founded by alumni of the Blue Man Group, is color. Lots of color. Stretched across four floors of a mixed-use, former medical building in Manhattan’s Financial District, the school serves as a “home away from home” for its kids, featuring flexible spaces and playful palettes that encourage creative self-expression and pride at all ages. The Blue School opened last month for its inaugural semester, welcoming 100 students and 70 faculty members through its shiny glass doors under a neon sign signaling its presence in the neighborhood. The 45,000-square-foot facility is the New York-based institution’s second campus designed by Rockwell Group. It provides much-needed breathing room for the school’s fourth through eighth-grade levels, which were previously housed in what’s now the primary school located in the South Street Seaport. Thanks to the move, pre-kindergarten through third-grade students were also given more space inside their facility, which opened in 2010. For the Upper School, as the new facility is known, Rockwell Group leveled up the design out of respect for the older children, who naturally are becoming more mature as they age. The architects outfitted the space with a bright, eye-catching interior and a layout designed to spark personal discovery as well as collaboration. “There’s a sense of respect the kids feel in spaces designed for them,” said Michael Fischer, the associate principal who led the design with David Rockwell. “They have autonomy, feel empowered and trusted.” Upon walking through the doors of the new Blue School, students, teachers, and guests are greeted with a lobby sporting a lounge-like feel, as well a high-gloss, neon yellow central staircase that serves as the main point of circulation in the facility. To the left in a community space called the Commons, colorful outdoor furniture adds a contemporary twist to the cafeteria setting along with bleacher-like seating wrapped in wood and staggered along the walls for a topographical effect. Additionally, a bar with stools lines the edge of the 1,800-square-foot space overlooking the street. The Commons also includes walls lined with LED-lit garden planters where food is grown as part of the school’s science curriculum as well as for students’ meals. The living wall is maintained in partnership with Brooklyn Grange and enhances the living room-like atmosphere of the shared space. On the basement level, Rockwell Group created a grown-up version of their Imagination Playground system with which students can construct their own seating stations using shapely, blue-foam cushions. The surrounding walls are clad with colorful, geometric wallpaper by Flavor Paper. Two studios as well as a column-free gymnasium, which doubles as a 130-seat auditorium—the Blue School’s first ever performance space—were also designed for the school’s arts and exercise programs. If flexibility is an integral part of the Blue School’s educational philosophy and its interior architectural design, the concept is most evident on the top floors where each learning space includes key elements that allow teachers and students to take over space how they see fit. Rockwell Group collaborated with Uhuru to create non-directional trapezoidal desks that can be easily set up to form clusters for group-work situations. Each classroom also includes a raised carpeted platform dedicated to quiet reading or presentations. An art room, maker lab, and materials library were also given major space on the second floor. Both are fully stocked with every kind of arts and engineering supply imaginable, from paint brushes to saws, to glue and glass. An adjacent materials library—open to the kids at all times—serves several fields of study and specific STEAM courses. The Blue School’s library features a book-lined, double-height reading space with a massive sofa and custom common tables by Rockwell Group for Knoll. Hanging from the ceiling next to the curtain-wall window is a light sculpture designed in collaboration with Dot Dash Design. It changes colors throughout the day and amplifies the school’s interior at night. From the street level, passersby can see activity within the facility and students get a sense of inclusion in the bustling neighborhood. Since the Blue School began in 2006, it has added one grade level per year to its roster of students—hence the need to build out a new campus for its burgeoning population. The first group of kids to begin at the school recently graduated from 8th grade and though they never had the chance to move into the new Upper School, they were integrated into the extensive planning process that Rockwell Group held with students, parents, and teachers. The school expects the number of students to double over the next several years. Blue School will featured as an Open Access site during Open House New York this Saturday, October 13th. Check it out from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or go on a guided tour with representatives from Blue School and Rockwell Group at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Reservations are not required.
In the run-up to the opening of The Shed, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and the Rockwell Group’s new arts center in the Hudson Yards development, a 2-week program called A Prelude to The Shed, featuring free performances, talks and events, took place in a temporary structure designed by Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ Works. A Stroll Through the Fun Palace, British architect Cedric Price’s 1961 project, developed with theater director Joan Littlewood, was presented in dynamic form by architects wheeling models and items from the project archives at the Canadian Centre for Architecture on carts throughout the site, and interacting with curious visitors. A Stroll was originally presented at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale at the Swiss Pavilion, where it was curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, who is also Senior Program Advisor at The Shed. On May 1, the evening panel discussion centered on Price’s Fun Palace and its impact on The Shed. Obrist and Prelude co-programmer Dorothea von Hantelmann set the stage by explaining why they included this work in the roster, and how its presentation explores the exhibition form itself. They correlated the Fun Palace’s interdisciplinary nature—opera, visual art, theater, dance—with Artistic Director Alex Poots’s background at the Manchester International Festival, the Park Avenue Armory and now The Shed. They were followed by Eleanor Bron, Cedric Price’s concubine (her preferred term for life partner), an actor best known for film roles in Help!, Alfie, Two for the Road, Bedazzled, and Women in Love, and Samantha Hardingham, interim director of the AA and author of Cedric Price Works, 1952–2003: A Forward-Minded Retrospective. They described the challenge for the self-described “anti-architect" to create a home for as many forms of fun in one spot as possible, and to open up science and culture to all. The Fun Palace, intended for the Olympics site in East London, was conceived as a permeable, moveable, gravity-defying open space without beginning or end, in contrast to the prevalent earthbound style of the times in Britain, Brutalism. It counted among is trustees Buckminster Fuller and violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and it nearly happened except for a drainage problem on the site. In another connection to The Shed, in 1999, Price submitted a proposal for Phyllis Lambert’s Hudson Yards competition, the current site of The Shed. Titled A Lung for Midtown Manhattan, Price was one of five finalists, who also included Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, Morphosis, Reiser + Umemoto, and winner Peter Eisenman. The jury consisted of Frank Gehry, Arata Isozaki, Philip Johnson, Rafael Moneo, Joseph Rose (City Planning Commissioner), and Elizabeth Diller. Notably, Diller voted for Price’s entry, which proposed leaving the space open with “wind-blinkers” to encourage breezes from the river to waft over Manhattan. Diller recounted the competition in the next panel, which also included David Rockwell and Kunlé Adeyemi. Diller and Rockwell discussed their approach to the design of The Shed: to be forever contemporary, flexible but not generic, scalable, indoor and outdoor, unbranded and entrepreneurial. They said their key architecture reference was the Fun Palace, which was an architecture of infrastructure. They also questioned why we need one more cultural institution, since New York City already boasts 12,000. Referring to the moveable portion of The Shed, Rockwell pointed out that many theaters are meant to be flexible (think Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall), which are rarely utilized because it’s too difficult or expensive. For him, another lesson was from his TED Theater in Vancouver, an annual pop-up meant to be “live.” Here, the architecture does not dictate what happens inside. The evening was rounded out with Keller Easterling, an architect and Yale professor, who spoke on notions of theater in architectural spaces (in addition to being an architect, she has a background as a performance artist) and Caroline A. Jones, a professor at MIT Architecture, who found parallels in electronic technological modes of production in the art world. They commented that presenters on stage facing the audience was the antithesis of the future Shed.
The sprint to finish the first phase of the Hudson Yards megaproject is on, as the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group-designed 15 Hudson Yards (Ismael Leyva Architects is serving as the architect of record and handling the interiors) topped out today. The 917-foot-tall condo tower will be the first residential building to open in the new neighborhood, and if construction finishes at the end of 2018 as planned, then the first phase of the new neighborhood will be on track for its March 2019 opening. The 285-unit 15 Hudson Yards is one of the last pieces of the project’s first phase, including the recently completed, bronzed stepwell Vessel nearby, and represents a culmination of five years of work at the site. Although the tower features a glass curtain wall similar to the other buildings on the site, 15 Hudson Yards gradually splits and rounds as it rises, resembling a set of conjoined smokestacks emerging from a square base. The LEED Gold-certified tower will also recycle stormwater, and use capture runoff to support the cooling systems. Once completed, residents will have 40,000 square feet of amenity space, including a 75-foot-long swimming pool in a full “aquatics center,” a fitness club, golf lounge, wine storage and tasting room, and a co-working space for residents. The lucky buyers get to look down on The Shed, as 15 Hudson looms over the extendable cultural venue, also designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group. As the first phase of the 28-acre, 18-million-foot mixed-use development winds to a close, speculation is heating up over who developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group will tap to design the largely residential second phase of Hudson Yards. As AN reported earlier this month, architects Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry are both in the running to design residential towers on the western half of the site. Hudson Yards will contain about 4,000 residential units once it’s fully complete in 2024. Check out a time-lapse video of 15 Hudson’s construction below.
While Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group's The Shed might not open until spring 2019, its creative team will be hosting nearly two weeks of free arts events this May to build anticipation for the ribbon-cutting. A Prelude to The Shed, held on a vacant lot at 10th Avenue and 30th Street in Manhattan, will feature live concerts, dance battles, art-focused political panels, and experimental classes that foreshadow offerings of the under-construction telescoping arts venue in Hudson Yards. From May 1 until May 13, visitors can experience Prelude in and around a reconfigured steel shed designed by architect Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ Works and artist Tino Sehgal. Prelude’s smaller shed will echo its larger counterpart by being fluid and transformable, with elements of the building able to move in response to the dancers within. “Using simple technologies, we made the structure so that it can be moved and transformed by people, enabling its participation in different formats of art, education, events, and public life,” said Adeyemi, in a press release. Each day of Prelude will bring a different program, though everything will be connected through Sehgal’s curation. Every morning, artist Asad Raza will lead experimental classes, based on his ongoing “Schema for a school” work, while panels on art’s role in social connectivity and the politics of ritualized gatherings will be hosted every other evening. Bolstering the series’ connection to The Shed, Prelude will host reproduced ephemera from architect Cedric Price’s Fun Palace, an unrealized moveable and multi-purpose venue that heavily influenced The Shed. Mobile exhibition carts stocked with artifacts from the Fun Palace will move around the temporary space to encourage public interaction. “Like The Fun Palace, Prelude is a hybridization of exhibition and performance, functionally structured to encourage open engagement with audiences and fresh, collaborative approaches from artists,” said Hans Ulrich Obrist, The Shed's artistic advisor. “It is emblematic of our own era in that it lends itself to the choreography of 21st-century time-based exhibitions.” A full schedule of Prelude’s programming can be found here, including a lineup for the concert series.
The Wharf–a $2 billion new development on a former industrial stretch of the D.C. waterfront–has finally opened. The developers are Madison Marquette and PN Hoffman, and the master architect and planner is Perkins Eastman. Previously the site was a mile-long stretch of boat storage, industrial space, and some back-door barbecue joints. At its northern end, it also includes the oldest fish market in the United States. Before the Wharf could be built, the existing seawall and promenade were torn up and replaced by an underground, two-story parking garage spanning the length of the development. The garages connect from below into an array of luxury residential structures with ground-level commercial space–restaurants, yoga studios, and other amenities. Last week all of these opened to the public–in total, 1.2 million square feet of mixed-use space including office structures, luxury and affordable residential space, a marina, and waterfront parks. The fish market was the only structure preserved as-is. The Anthem, a new 6,000-person theatre venue, is a cornerstone development of the Wharf. Designed by New York-based Rockwell Group, the venue is essentially a concrete volume hedged in by two L-shaped residential structures. The Anthem has a warehouse-like interior and two levels of balconies split into smaller, drawer-like extrusions. Massive steel panels flank the stage, laser cut and illuminated with the pattern of two enormous curtains drawn back, resembling the velvet drapery of Baroque theaters. The space is managed by a 30-year old staple organization in D.C. entertainment–the 9:30 Club–to whom the Wharf reached out in the initial stages. The building’s board-form concrete paneling and industrial facade are intended as a nod to the Club’s famed punk-laden lineups. In the lobby, one can look up through an installation of floating cymbals to four rectangular skylights three floors up. If you look closely, the skylights ripple with water–the underbelly of a pool for a residential structure stacked above. A key design challenge for the Anthem was its siting between two residential structures. To address the noise issue, Rockwell spent several million dollars designing a multi-layered sound barrier between the structures, which are reportedly so effective that amplified concerts are inaudible from the interiors of apartments less than a hundred feet away. Supposedly, a resident could sleep soundly while Dave Grohl shredded away on opening night. The Anthem's neighboring structures include designs by FOX Architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Perkins Eastman, Parcel 3A, Cunningham Quill Architects, BBG_BBGM, Handel Architects, WDG Architecture, Studio MB, SmithGroup JJR, MTFA Architecture, SK&I, and Moffatt & Nichol. Only Phase One has opened. Phase Two will add an additional 1.2 million square feet to the overall site footprint, mostly extending south. The roster of new structures will include designs by firms such as SHoP Architects, Rafael Viñoly, Morris Adjmi Architects, Hollwich Kushner (HWKN), ODA, WDG Architecture, and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). The expansion will include increased office and residential space, an additional pier and marina, as well as increased park space. Phase One is notably without much public greenery. The construction of Phase Two is slated to begin in 2018, with a projected opening of 2021.
Collective Design opened today for its fifth fair focused on 20th- and 21st-century design with 28 exhibitors. Founded by architect and interior designer Steven Learner specifically for the design and architectural community, the fair will host galleries, designers, and commercial brands from May 3 to May 7. The design world continues to be enraptured by surrealism and, as a result, bright colors and fantastical forms reigned throughout. Paris-based Swiss designer, Mattia Bonetti’s work was highlighted as the Collective Influence installation that included Bonetti’s riotous sofa and Seussical-style lamp and side table. Just around the corner, R & Company touted the new generation of maximal whimsy with pieces by the Haas Brothers, Katie Stout, and Porky Hefer. More and more, companies are integrating technology to take the possibility of designs to new heights. At Collective, Othr’s 3-D printed works and Flavor Paper’s use of water-based conductive ink make a strong showing. Othr’s Vanguard Series took advantage of 3-D printing (Othr 3-D prints all of its wares, partnering with designers to create its pieces) by having Murray Moss, Annabelle Selldorf, Felix Burrichter, Christian Larsen, and India Mahdavi each nominate an emerging designer to create a piece for Othr. As a result, Egg Collective, GT2P, Ania Jaworska, Marie-Victoire Winckler, and Chen Chen and Kai Williams all created stunning vessels in a variety of 3-D printed porcelain, steel, and bronze. Flavor Paper presented Conduct, a playful immersive installation that demonstrated the ability of wallpaper to transfer energy. Flavor Paper founder Jon Sherman discovered water-based conductive ink two years ago and partnered with UM Project to help display its potential. By pressing dots on the wallpaper, one can activate lights, sound, and movement in the installation. Other highlights included new iterations of Apparatus’s, Stickbulb’s, and Calico Wallpaper’s offerings from Milan Design Week, as well as the Noguchi Museum’s Waiting Room installation of Robert Stadler and Isamu Noguchi’s works, which coincides with an exhibition at the museum (far, far away in Queens). Thanks to Collective Design’s manageable size (one can easily navigate the entire show in under two hours), and fresh offerings, it will undoubtedly be a popular stop on this month’s design circuit.
May is around the corner, and with it comes the fifth edition of the Collective Design fair, occurring May 3 through May 7 as part of NYCxDESIGN. The event will be at The High Line’s former southernmost terminal, Skylight Clarkson Sq, a “horizontal skyscraper” spanning three city blocks in West SoHo. As if the venue wasn’t interesting enough, Collective Design has now announced several installations to christen the space. Following in the footsteps of last year’s Glacial Drift by Brooklyn-based The Principals, The LAB at Rockwell Group has designed a 40-foot-long “blue carpet” that passes through a glittering tunnel as the fair's entrance. The in-house design innovation studio found inspiration for the experience in the red carpets of Hollywood and their choreography and their promises of excitement. “Our goal was to create an entry experience that plays with the theatrical moment of the red carpet, and also blurs digital technology with a physical structure,” said Melissa Hoffman, studio leader at The LAB, Rockwell Group’s in-house design innovation studio. “We ended up transforming the typical entry experience into a shimmering, seductive structure immersed in Collective’s signature blue color.” The tunnel will be fabricated by Brooklyn-based The Factory NYC, built from plywood ribs cut on a CNC router. The structure will then be clad entirely in mylar foil fringe, which will give the tunnel its glamorous shimmer. The passage will also expand and contract, giving it the illusion that it is breathing and adding a touch of other-worldliness to the grand entrance. After traipsing through the breathing blue tunnel, visitors will experience another kind of living corridor: an indoor classical garden designed by Brook Klausing of Brook Landscape. The installation will feature raw timbers from the Rockaway Boardwalk, salvaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and select pieces from Natural Workshop, a collaboration of Klausing and Brian Green, who is launching a new product line this spring. Other installations include The Noguchi Museum’s Waiting Room: Noguchi/Stadler, an exhibition of Isamu Noguchi’s work alongside designer Robert Stadler, which mimics the strangeness of waiting spaces and “public and private forms of standing-by.” Huniford Design Studio, led by James Huniford, will be furnishing the VIP Lounge for the fair, showcasing furniture from the Huniford Collection, a luxury furniture line from the designer launching this spring. Also making an appearance is Stickbulb, a handmade lighting brand that utilizes sustainably sourced and reclaimed wood. They will be installing a limited-edition piece made from reclaimed redwood planks salvaged during the demolition of New York City water towers. Alongside the announcements of these exciting installations, Collective Design also announced the addition of several major partners for 2017: The Museum of Arts and Design, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Open House New York, The Architectural League of New York, Royal Academy of Art (RCA) in London, New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), School of Visual Art (SVA), and Bard Graduate Center (BCG). With the announcement of these installations and additions to the fair, May is shaping up to be an inspiring and exciting month for the New York City design community. You can find more information about the Collective Design fair here and more information regarding NYCxDESIGN’s many festivities here.
Local students and community members joined NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, City Council Member Darlene Mealy, and David Rockwell, founding principle of Rockwell Group, for the opening of the Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Although the concept derives from adventure playgrounds and similar philosophies of unstructured play, the Brownsville Imagination Playground is technically the first permanent one of its kind in Brooklyn, and the second worldwide. (The first, also designed by the Rockwell Group, opened in 2010 at the Burling Slip in Manhattan). The $5.05 million project was influenced by tree houses, a foil to the monolithic blocks of high-rise public housing for which Brownsville is best known. A curved ramp wends its way through mature trees, while blue foam blocks, cut into funky shapes, along with water and sand, are tools for children to collaborate, build, or create by themselves. Traditional play elements—slides swing sets, chess tables, and a basketball court—round out the program. A year before the Burling Slip playground opened, Rockwell Group tested the designs in Brownsville with former NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. David Rockwell elaborated on the process: "When we were asked to do a second Imagination Playground, it gave us a chance to do a couple of things from a design perspective: One, these London Plane trees were incredible, they were a landmark that was important to preserve. We were able to create a path that weaves around the trees. Like the lower Manhattan playground, it's a playground you can see from 360 degrees. It's really a community space." https://www.flickr.com/photos/136339520@N03/25924630244/in/dateposted-public/ This reporter dodged zooming children and risked limb (well, ankle—platform sandals were a bad choice for this assignment!) to give you, dear readers, a panoramic view of the park from the bridge. (Look closely at 0:55 in the video above and you can see another local landmark, the Kenneth Frampton–designed Marcus Garvey Village.)
Luminaries Brookfield Place Winter Garden 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. 230 Vesey St., New York Through January 10, 2016 New York–based architecture and design practice Rockwell Group is lighting up New York City this holiday season with Luminaries, an interactive lighting display inside the ten-story, glass-vaulted pavilion Winter Garden Atrium at Brookfield Place New York. Designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group, the festive display features a large illuminated canopy comprised of 650 lanterns and an array of color-changing LED lights. The display is also outfitted with three interactive “wishing stations,” which trigger various lighting effects upon touch. For every wish made at Luminaries, Arts Brookfield will donate $1 up to $25,000 to the GRAMMY Foundation in an effort to fund music education programs for high school students. Inspired by the holiday traditions of sharing, community, and connection, Luminaires includes five choreographed light shows—Snowfall, Christmas Tree, Ribbons, Firecracker, and Northern Lights—that are scheduled every two hours during exhibition hours. Visit Arts Brookfield's website for more information on the exhibition.