The Good Life: New Public Spaces for Recreation

A Van Alen Institute Exhibition
September 8 - October 1, 2006
Wed - Fri, 12-7pm
Sat - Sun, 12-6pm

at Hudson River Park's Pier 40
West Street at W. Houston Street

Exhibition Website

"The Good Life: New Public Spaces For Recreation" explored the reinvention of urban public spaces to meet the needs of 21st century recreation. Curated by Zoë Ryan, the exhibition showcased the most promising paradigms of how 21st century leisure - recreation, fun, education, relaxation - is being designed into the everyday physical realm of the built environment. The exhibition presented an array of new projects in cities around the world designed by esteemed international practitioners including Martha Schwartz, Ken Smith, Weiss/Manfredi Architects, Vito Acconci, SHoP Architects, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, Walter Hood, David Adjaye, West 8, FAT and Thomas Heatherwick. This exhibition illustrated how such spaces play an essential role in elevating the quality of daily life and urban regeneration. In the current political and social climate it is important that public spaces have strong identities and engaging programs that are accessible to a variety of cultures and different economic groups.

The exhibition highlighted the ways in which existing public spaces are being re-envisioned for new recreational and leisure uses, and illustrated how spaces for play and cultural exchange are being reinvented on former industrial waterfronts, brownfield sites, transportation interchanges, vacant lots, and reclaimed land. The exhibition also demonstrated that the best and most sustainable public spaces engage a broad range of users, can be designed for either large or small scale interventions, and are flexible and able to change over time to accommodate multiple activities both programmed and unscripted.

Exhibition Design
The exhibition design by Amale Andraos and Dan Wood of WORKac utilizes a single gesture—the wiggle—to create a series of discrete and varied environments for the five themes, including a stage for events and a lounge. The wiggle is created from a sinuous band of fabric, manipulated to create openings, windows for video screens, and areas to gather and sit. The exhibition's visual identity, motion graphics and catalogue are designed by Prem Krishnamurthy and Adam Michaels of Project Projects.