Posts tagged ‘public space’

Underground green space?

Large areas of available space are certainly few and far between in New York City, particularly in Manhattan. So PopTech’s Dan Barasch and RAAD’s James Ramsey are proposing to create a public green space underneath the street, complete with natural light carried down through fiber optic cables. In theory, this light would maintain photosynthesizing abilities, so common plants would be able to grow in the underground space.

The proposed project would be an adaptive reuse of the abandoned Williamsburg Trolley Terminal underneath Delancey Street in the Lower East Side. The project is being called the Delancey Underground or, in contrast to Chelsea’s elevated park, the Low Line.


renderings of Ramsey and Barasch’s proposed Low Line

This idea is fairly mind-blowing to me, and I find myself to be simultaneously skeptical, intrigued, and very inspired. Luckily it seems like there’s an awful lot of supporters out there; the Low Line’s Kickstarter campaign earned a third of its target amount in three days (and has 437 backers at the time of writing). I’m sure that the really well done video has helped, too.

Want to learn more? In addition to visiting the project’s website and Kickstarter page, you can check out the unbelievable amount of press coverage including Inhabitat, Architizer, Treehugger, the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, and Co.Design among others.

Feb 24’s daily design idea is: Co.Design notes that this is “the kind of space that childhood daydreams are made of.” Can a realized version of the Low Line live up to the daydream? And even if so, should some creative proposals be intentionally unrealized to preserve the awe that they inspire?

February 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm 1 comment

Searching for romance.

Web searches for concepts (rather than something more tangible like people, places, or things) are always a little hit or miss, although they’ve clearly improved and continue to do so.

Searching for “romance” on Flickr seemed appropriate for today, but I wasn’t entirely sure what would pop up. I was delighted when the following image by Flickr user ah zut popped up; it resonated on a few levels with my personal feelings about romance. (The fact that the photograph was taken in Paris doesn’t hurt.)

romance sous le parapluie jaune #1” (romance under the yellow umbrella #1)

February 14’s daily design idea is what image captures romance, for you?

February 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm Leave a comment

Replay: Christo

Earlier tonight, the Architectural League of New York hosted a presentation by Christo (and by Jeanne-Claude in spirit). Christo energetically shared some very candid insight into his current projects, his professional history, and his process.

The bulk of the presentation was centered on “Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, Colorado,” described on the project’s website as “a two-week temporary work of art” with plans to intermittently suspend 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels across the banks of a 42-mile section of Arkansas River in south-central Colorado.


Over The River Life-Sized Test For aesthetic and technical considerations, four life-size prototype tests were conducted in 1997, 1998 and 1999 on private property near the Colorado/Utah border. Photo: Wolfgang Volz, © Christo 1999. More images can be seen in Over The River’s gallery.

Christo described the project (and others) with a humorous  and surprisingly endearing bravado. He discussed the permitting process and other forums of critical feedback (for example: the definitively non-supportive “Rags Over the Arkansas River” organization) as an integral part of the project development process. He joyfully explained how fulfilling it is to receive feedback (positive and negative) during these parts of their projects since “people don’t talk about the sculpture until it is sculpted, or the painting until it is painted.” But people talk about Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects at length, often for years, before they are installed.

If the permitting process for “Over the River” continues as planned (including a review of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement – a first for a work of art – by the Bureau of Land Management), the installation will be up for two weeks in August 2014 – after 22 years of development.

December 6’s daily design idea is open up about your process.

December 6, 2010 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Two more design actions in the public realm.

The first via Core77 (Nov 2, 2010):

Artist Catie Newell has used reclaimed wood from an arsoned house in Detroit to create Salvaged Landscape, an installation within the burnt building itself. “Demolition of this severely damaged house was imminent, but instead of a traditional tear-down, Newell removed the charred wood timbers from the frame of the house and stacked them on their sides to form an outside wall that extends to become a moody passageway inside. The surface highlights the unburnt insides of the timber in its cross section, exhibiting the contrast between the char of the surface and the warmth underneath.”


Salvaged Landscape is supported by The Imagination Station.

The second via Inhabitat (Nov 12, 2010):

“In the historic downtown area of Lima, Peru, a new pop up green space has invaded the urban landscape. Invasion Verde, or Green Invasion, is an installation by architects Genaro Alva, Denise Ampuero, Gloria Andrea Rojas and industrial designer Claudia Ampuero, created as part of Gran Semana de Lima – also known as Lima’s Great Week…. Invasion Verde is an attempt to insert extra park space into a packed city, in order to improve the quality of life for Lima’s citizens.”


Photos © Genaro Alva, from Flickr

December 3’s daily design idea is with creativity, any space can be activated.

December 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

Materializing the digital world.

After a little more research, it turns out that German artist Aram Bartholl (of the Dead Drops project) has done several interesting interventions in physical space involving the critique/exploration/confrontation of virtual space. I think Jonas has some 3D competition…


Map, public installation, 2006-10. In cities such as Szczecin, Poland (pictured above) Bartholl installed his project “at the exact spot where Google Maps assumes to be the city center of the city. Transferred to physical space the map marker questions the relation of the digital information space to every day life public city space.”


WoW, workshop/public intervention, 2006-9. “The WoW project takes this mode of publicizing players’ names that’s typical of online 3D worlds and transfers it into the physical domain of everyday life…. What happens when a person’s customary anonymity in the public sphere is obliterated by the principles operative in virtual worlds online?”


TV-Filter, light installation, 2005. Similar to Jason Eppink’s Pixelator, “TV-Filter allows [you] to downsample an ongoing tv-show to 6 by 8 pixels in realtime…. The different color information of each tv line get mixed to an average color value on each 4 by 4 cm pixel. In this way it is thinkable to reduce every high definition screen to a pleasant information density.”

December 2’s daily design idea is what aspect of your virtual life could use a little physical intervention?

December 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

Reclaiming public space.

As much as I love the High Line here in New York, it bums me out that it’s only open until 8pm during the winter. In my opinion, there also seem to be a lot of rules for what is fundamentally a recreational space… but I still very much love the park, and I don’t think I’ve broken any of the rules (though climbing stuff now suddenly sounds like fun).

The more I think about public space, the more I realize how much of it is actually semi-public. I have mixed feelings about this fact. What I don’t have mixed feelings about (because I really love all these examples) is the re-claiming or otherwise surprising usage of public space demonstrated below:


Aram Bartholl has started installing USB drives throughout New York City in a project called Dead Drops, part of his residency at Eyebeam. According to Bartholl’s blog, Dead Drops is “an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space.” Discovered via Laughing Squid. Both photos by Aram Bartholl.


A documentary by artist Marisa González highlights how, on Sundays, the plaza of Norman Foster‘s Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Headquarters (and specifically the HSBC Hong Kong Bank) becomes filled with Filipina women, most of whom work long and underpaid hours as domestic helpers on other days of the week. In the words of the artist, “these women change the meaning of the commercial public space, where they transport their habits and traditions through leisure, rest, religion and culture. The luxury downtown city on Sundays becomes a domestic space where they meet, rest, eat, dance, play cards and pray.” Discovered via Pruned.


Closer to home, the BQE BYO (held as part of Park(ing) Day) transformed a whole slew of parking spaces at the intersection of Washington and Park Avenue in Brooklyn into a shared dining and party space. Kudos to the Design Trust for Public Space and their collaborators (Architecture for Humanity New York, Do:Tank Brooklyn, Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project, and Transportation Alternative) for this great event. Before and after photos by Adam Brodowski.

December 1’s daily design idea is how public can public space be? How public should public space be? And, even more difficult yet, should all public space be equally public?

December 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm 4 comments

This Week: The Rider Rebellion Rallies for Transit

Re-blogged from Streetsblog.
Originally posted October 25, 2010.

“After a successful demonstration of support for the Prospect Park West bike lane last week, livable streets activists need to rally again to defend the city’s transit system. Join Transportation Alternatives’ Rider Rebellion in Union Square on Wednesday to show elected officials that more fare hikes and service cuts aren’t acceptable.

  • Tonight: DOT is working on a design for a new plaza at Pershing Square, in front of Grand Central Terminal. Participate in a public workshop to develop ideas for the new public space. 6:00 p.m.
  • Also tonight: The first meeting of the Community Advisory Committee for Select Bus Service on Hylan Boulevard. This group will provide input to DOT and the MTA over the course of planning bus improvements for this Staten Island corridor. 6:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday: The tour of PlaNYC “Community Conversations” comes to the Bronx. Tell the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability what should be included in next year’s update of PlaNYC 2030.
  • Wednesday: Fed up with decisions from Albany that allowed transit service to shrink while fares go up? Rally to save public transit in Union Square. Transit riders from all five boroughs will join Transportation Alternatives’ Rider Rebellion to stress the importance of good transit policy as we head into next week’s election. 5:30 p.m.
  • Also Wednesday: The Community Advisory Committee for the Nostrand Avenue SBS meets again, this time to discuss the results of the environmental review. 6:30 p.m.

Keep an eye on the calendar for updated listings. Got an event we should know about? Drop us a line.”

>> October 25’s daily design idea is take advantage of opportunities to directly engage with the future of public space and public transit. Furious that MTA fares might go up, again!?! Peacefully dedicated to the availability of public space in midtown Manhattan? Love buses?? Whatever your motivation, get involved!

October 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

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