To generate interest and excitement for our BLOQ PARTY proposal, we wanted to start a conversation by showing how the program elements we produced could potentially activate the competition site. Competitions, design proposals and urban space planning oftentimes fall under the radar of the actual users of the site who are both unaware that a competition is taking place and then have no voice in the process or outcome. The plastic signs are intended to link the digital proposal to an actual physical space – less obscure websites and more public posters. It also helped to see how our space division laid out on the actual site, we had treated the eastern, narrower plaza area as space for movement and dynamic interaction – biking, running, skating. The western, more generous plaza was designed for slower, more spontaneous meeting areas. We hope the signs can begin to create a diaglogue for the best use of the space including potentially new and different program ideas that can eventually bring the space to life in a vibrant manner for all.
Designed with Mark Bearak and Yuval Borochov
What began as a competition for a temporary rehabilitation of an existing chain link fence along two blocks – adjacent to a pair of parking lots – quickly became a more encompassing proposal as we realized the latent potential of the two narrow, un-programmed plazas bordering the modest chain link fence. Located at the Delancey Street connection to the Williamsburg Bridge, the site acts as the symbolic gateway to the Lower East Side for those leaving and entering Manhattan, and as such, displays a great wealth of untapped design opportunity. As a temporary proposal of less than 5 years duration, we identified a variation of possible plug-in nodes that could be used to test ideas for the site and generate community engagement by bringing the scattered, diverse collection of LES attractions together at the fence, displaying the street-level density and multiple, overlapping functions that have historically characterized the LES. Budget and business plans were also developed to illustrate the feasibility of a more ambitious program at the site through a variety of funding and sponsorship options.
The possibilities of programming a BLOQ are endless, ranging from a bike repair station, to a satellite location of a Lower East Side business, to a concert venue stage. Each block will have its’ own identity, but share geometric cues from its neighbors. In our proposal we will aggregate 16 BLOQS that will serve as a gateway to the LES while also providing an oasis of attractions within the neighborhood.
The site will consist of two city blocks and each section will have its own identity. We call the Eastern section the PIT-STOP based on its adjacency to the Williamsburg Bridge and its planned programmatic functions. The BLOQS located in this section will serve as a way station for pedestrians heading to Brooklyn or entering the LES. This section will have BLOQS with services such as bike repair, coffee and skate gear.
We call the Western section the CHILL space and we will treat it as more of a destination. The width of the site allows for larger gatherings of people who can congregate into the farmers market or catch a drink at the pop-up bar. Our proposal represents a handful of potential BLOQS; over the life of the project there are endless possibilities for temporary and permanent installations.
Further exploring the actual BLOQS, each zone will be defined by a fence which will act as a billboard for the community and patterns placed along the ground. Each section of fence will be a billboard representing an actual block of the LES. The design of each section of the fence will be a series of parallelograms that advertise local businesses within the represented blocks of the LES. The parallelograms will be colored based on following four categories: Shop, Eat, Explore & Nightlife. The adjacent ground will be a continuation of this theme containing patterns unique to each BLOQ.
The most liberating feature of the BLOQS will be created when the fence is used as a jumping off point to an architectural installation. We will bend, fold, cut, extend and warp the fence to accommodate the unique functions of each BLOQ. In some cases the drama of the gesture will be relatively modest; in the case of the market the fence will simply be extended horizontally to create a canopy to protect the produce. In more complex situations, structure and furniture will be built off of the fence to create a space suitable to host large groups of visitors. One of the largest BLOQS will be composed of a bar, stage and viewing area built within the distinct vocabulary of the installation.
The main purpose of the BLOQ installation is to activate the space. The BLOQ will not only serve as a gateway to the LES, it will serve as a destination for all New Yorkers. The project will never be static and its potential can be tested over time as the project evolves to suit the changing needs of the community. Eventually the project will not only be a representation of the vitality of the neighborhood, it will also serve as a benchmark for the evolution of the Lower East Side.
Quick Project Description
Continuous Contour is a folly built from one single 1050’ length of rope – sourced in Long Island City and hearkening back to the area’s historical role as a center of nautical manufacturing – as well as a series of guide wires and steel rings. Evoking a contour drawing where the pencil never leaves the paper, this rope becomes a continuous, eccentric line that winds its way through a series of metal rings to transform into a phantom geometrical construction, capturing space with visible boundary lines while still remaining imminently temporal and open. The folly proposal comments on architecture’s attempt to force order on the natural world by highlighting the impractical tension between the rigid, recognizable cubic forms and the seemingly chaotic guide wires that connect to the naturally occurring trees that circumnavigate the site. This forms a contradictory structure that is both delicate – being able to sway along with trees and grasping hands – but also completely in tension and dependent on each node to remain standing.
The folly Continuous Contour is constructed from a number of locally manufactured and off the shelf materials. Long Island City was once a hub of naval construction and the area still retains some capabilities for producing nautical components, cotton rope primary amongst them. This became the basis for the design proposal and the main feature becomes a single, continuous line of dyed rope facilitating an investigation into the latent possibilities inherent in the material’s strength for flexibility and manipulation.
Architecture school begins with drawing, and one of the first methods taught in the development of a young architect is the contour drawing method, essentially a line drawing that traces the outline of a given subject – a simple means of emphasizing mass and volume on a flat two-dimensional surface. In Continuous Contour the subject becomes spactial and is manifested in a three-dimensional construction that forms the outline of a number of cubic forms that tumble about the sculpture park appearing to take flight as they near the water line. A canvas or plastic tarp is affixed to one side of the forms to potentially provide shade or a projection surface while further emphasizing the geometry. The single approx. 1000’ strand of the rope winds through a series of metal rings, back in on itself and then away again to form a unified decorative agglomeration. The eye can delight in following the eccentric path of the rope, tracing its voyage as it weaves through the park, transforming from a material that connotes a coiled, resting mass into a temporal folly that is now slightly recognizable as something structural. The folly defines space, both within its individual forms and within the park, defining zones of play and contemplation. However, as the folly is merely an outline – the graphical representation of space constructed from a linear material – it is inherently empty and creates a dramatic tension from the play between the two contradictory notions of void and outline.
The rigid, recognizably intentional geometric forms are held in place by a delicate system of guide wires attached to the park’s trees and a minimal number of ground anchoring points. The guide wires are constructed from flexible steel rope and a number of standard connection systems, amongst them stainless steel rings and carabiners. The folly comments on architecture’s ambition to manipulate forced, ordered forms out of the chaos of nature by emphasizing the seemingly chaotic web of guide wires required to stabilize the cubic volumes that appear to hover above the ground. The overall structure of the folly becomes delicate in one sense, in that it gently sways in the breeze in tune with the supporting trees, while the effects of someone tugging on the rope on one end are felt and seen as a rippling throughout the overall system. The folly is then at once elaborate and extravagant, necessitating a detailed site survey for tree locations and a complex system of guidewires in tension to form the node points, while it is also built from modest, common materials.
After the exhibition ends all of the materials can be easily reused and recycled into a number of alternate uses. Due to its softness to the touch, cotton rope is frequently used in railings and could become woven together in a net or other shape to make a wonderful addition to a number of city playgrounds. Likewise, steel rope is frequently used for railings and other tensile applications, but can be easily melted down and recycled.
Sited at the corner of India and West St. in Greenpoint, the project situates itself as a gateway, a ceremonial entrance to Pier 11 and the East River Ferry. The four Caryatid models are milled out of standard Dow rigid foam insulation.
Activating the fluorescent lights allows wattage to bleed through where the foam material is thinnest, illuminating the ghostly forms of four of the maidens. The four foam panels match the rhythm of the warehouse windows above and reveal themselves as non-loadbearing elements, while still taking the expected position of structural elements – placed under the building’s overhang. Here light takes on volumetric properties, giving life to the caryatids and briefly rendering them in an effervescent glow that contrasts with their current Hellenistic confinement, hewn from Grecian stone and forever supporting the Porch’s entablature above.
Projected budget: $415