Sunday, November 07, 2010

After bringing public art to the Atlantic Avenue construction fence, what about "icebergs" for the empty lots on the Atlantic Yards site?

Among the four winners of the urbancanvas Design Competition, a program from the Department of Buildings and the Department of Cultural Affairs that is bringing public art to temporary protective structures on construction sites, is “Color Mesh” by Mauricio Lopez, now installed along a 228 foot-long fence at the Atlantic Yards construction site.

(Photo from Mauricio Lopez ARTblog)

Next: icebergs?

Such public art, however, represents only a modest improvement to the urban fabric. A much larger challenge involves empty lots on the Atlantic Yards site.

And while no one has yet discussed it regarding Atlantic Yards, one architectural firm has suggested a solution for the many stalled construction sites across the city.

The Icebergs NYC project, according to Woods Bagot both solves a problem and creates an opportunity:
Big in volume and light on resources, like their namesakes, these 100% recyclable structures have been designed to turn stalled construction sites into unique, multi-purpose spaces. Icebergs NYC provides an iconic venue for a variety of functions, while creating a revenue stream on an otherwise dormant site. Designed for quick assembly and disassembly, the modular structures are constructed of a steel frame topped by inflated pillows of ETFE to create a dynamic, memorable form. Transportable in a single shipping container, Icebergs can quickly be set adrift to sites in cities around the world.
Further coverage

Here's 6/21/10 coverage in Crain's, headlined Designer Floats Iceberg Idea for Stalled Building Sites:
"Owners and developers are spending money every day to cover these idle sites, and people are hesitant to build on them in the meantime," [Woods Bagot New York Principal Jeff Holmes] said. "We wanted to make something high quality with a real presence to attract top-notch venues."

So, the firm is proposing flexible and modular spaces that can be put in the place of these vacant lots, but can also be quickly removed if and when the primary stalled project is resurrected. Woods Bagot created modular steel beams with a thin film of plastic stretched over them. The coating weighs less than one-tenth that of a typical roof structure much less glass curtain wall, but has high insulation qualities.

The firm, which was founded 141 years ago in Adelaide, Australia, has yet to build any icebergs, but it is in talks with several developers. Eventually Woods Bagot hopes not to have a few of them floating temporarily around New York but around the nation as well, where stalled sites are nothing if not more common than they are here.
Here's further coverage from the September 2010 issue of Metropolis, headlined Urban Outfitters, and the 6/22/10 WNBC TV piece titled Icebergs in the Streets of NYC, embedded below.

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