Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Living Pavilion Dispatch #6: Construction Completion

more pics here

I am proud, joyful, and relieved to report that the Figment Living Pavilion stands complete a day ahead of schedule. On a drizzly Wednesday morning, after weeks of reported thunderstorms but gorgeous weather, screws were tightened and foundation ditches filled to secure our dream of building architecture in NYC's best park.

Figment has been an amazing supporter of this project. I'm waiting with anticipation to see this beautiful structure filled with arts programming and impromptu gathering come the debut of Figment 2010 on Friday--note the wealth of scheduled performances on the Pavilion Stage, from belly and ballroom dancing to improv musical comedy and interactive folktale theater. The participatory arts scene has been a great source of inspiration for me over the past few years, as has the architecture and design community. It means a lot that the we were able to merge the glorious social utopia of the glittering costumed free-for-all with a professional, measured, and intellectual view toward larger scale design thinking and experiments in sustainability. The ultimate test of our health as a society is how we fulfill ourselves as individuals in the context of shared space and resources. Participatory architecture has produced an icon to this belief that will literally grow into its own as plantings germinate and people, through use, imbue their own meanings.

A special thank you at this moment to David Koren and Jessica Sheridan who have worked behind the scenes with skill and aplomb to make this possible; to our very patient and helpful representatives from the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation; to the pavilion's brilliant and committed architects Behrang Behin and Ann Ha; to the amazing Figment production team; and to the 60+ volunteers (final count TK) who have made this possible, including those in the home stretch since my last blog post, Berardo Matalucci, Rusty Brinkman, Nic Warner, Lydia Orsy, Max Akulin, Kayla Soo-Youn Kim, Baraket Kezwer, Malgorzata Danilczuk-Danilewicz, Breta Bishop, Damir Pozerac, Beatriz Ortiz, and Tara Mrowka.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Living Pavilion Dispatch #5: It Stands!

about 1/3 of the pavilion is built
more pics here

This weekend the Living Pavilion became a proto-building and not just an intense pile of planted milk crates. Ultimately it will have 23 ribs, be 30 ft long, and undulate between 9 and 12 feet tall. The deadline is looming but progress seems to be on track. Figment is placing a stage inside where dance performances are scheduled for the first day of the festival this Friday.

By the last ferry on Sunday we were almost 1/3 of the way there with eight ribs up. Each arc sandwiches a row of milk crates that are bolted in. Our structural engineer Yunlu did all the math and was confident that the design would be sound, but I think until we got to this point we were all a little nervous. Sunday was the day when all the structural engineers came out to play with us.

The crates form a pixelated pattern that switch between planted modules and empty skylight boxes. The design has changed since the original proposal, but its amazing how nicely the texture and gestures match the renderings, and hanging plants are beautiful when they blow in the breeze. Part of the original call for entries asked for a structure that would provide shelter. The crate matrix was only partially protective when a brief thunderstorm hit, but proves cool and shady in the hot sun. Spatially the pavilion feels very nice to be inside. It's already large enough to stretch out and walk around in, and feels both familiar with its naturalistic elements and intriguing by the plants' unusual direction. One volunteer felt like she was in a wedding chapel.

A huge crew came out to support us this weekend. Thank you volunteers: Vanesa Alicia, Jessica Sheridan, David & Shirley Menokovich, Amanda Rivera, Tes Rivera, Eve Dilworth, Zohn Rosen, Jamie Kiburz, Dillon Font, Nick Dellano, Margaret Murray, Martina Gawrych, Yunlu Shen, Steve Koller, Nick Hohn, Shamil Lallani, Matthew Moser, Andy Beck, Nicholas Warner, Misael Rojas & Natalie, Kayla Soo-Youn Kim, Nina Mahjoub, Paul Laroque, Lourdes Saladino, Rebecca Jones, Shinjinee Pathak, Irmak Turan, and Scott Miller.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Living Pavilion Dispatch #4: A New Location Saves the Water Problem

The Living Pavilion has moved to the Parade Grounds, solving our water problems but confusing lost volunteers and vexing Figment's mapping progress! It's too bad that we couldn't make it work in the City of Dreams, but the new location is much healthier for the plants that will spend half the day in the shade and the other half shading you. Our long hose is now comfortably hooked up to a spigot rather than requiring a connection to a drip gushing tapped fire hydrant. We've learned a few things about resources and problem solving on this one, and internalized the fact that understanding the local context is truly key to designing anything sustainable.

We're done planting and hope you'll join us this weekend for the beginning of the construction phase. The Island is open to the public and you can drop by any time. The new (even simpler) directions to the site are:

1. Get your ass to the ferry on time, which means a few minutes early. It's right next door to the north of the Staten Island ferry.

2. After the boat drops you off, turn left. When you're standing directly in front of the fort with Nolan Park to the left you'll see a grassy entrance to the Parade Grounds.

3. Go forward onto the grass a little bit and you'll see us.

A special thank you to all my volunteers this week, on the island, in the shop, and in front of the computer. There is no way we could do this without you: Alexandra Hofgaertner, Malgorzata Danilczuk-Danilewicz, Anya Dayneko, Shayne Smith, Judy Hugentobler, John Toniolo, Paula Wood, Vanessa Paulson, Gabriel Ceycedo, Eve Dilworth, Chris Cummings, Katie Stokien, Keefe Butler, Max Akulin, Christine O'Heron, Rusty Mooooo Brinkman, S. Pearson Smith, Josh Newman, Bareket Kezwer, Tes Rivera, Beatriz Ortiz, Garry Engelbe, Damir Pozderac, Aysha Jalil, Nic Warner, and Berardo Matalucci.