Flatiron Partnership: Jeff Simmons, firstname.lastname@example.org, 917-673-0024
Van Alen Institute: Steven Thomson, email@example.com, 212-924-7000 x 12
NEW YORK, October 30, 2017– On Thursday, October 26, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) and Van Alen Institute unveiled the winner of the fourth annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition—Flatiron Reflection by Future Expansion— a temporary installation in the heart of the Flatiron District. Flatiron Reflection will be the centerpiece of the Partnership’s sixth annual holiday program and a highly visible landmark in this thriving New York City neighborhood.
Flatiron Reflection is a publicly spirited space that encourages new experiences of the city, new modes of dwelling in the plaza, and new views of its context. A bundle of shimmering tubes creates a fragmented column at the scale of the public plaza. The fluted perimeter offers niches that can be occupied, while a panoramic central space opens out like a stage into the plaza. The conical interior form cuts out the visual noise of the city to isolate the image of the Flatiron Building and its neighbors on the skyline.
The project is designed to be experienced both up-close and from a distance. As you walk around it, the play of light, shadow, and reflection changes its appearance against the background of buildings and trees. From a distance, the folds create soft reflections that become clearer as you approach; Indistinguishable shapes sharpen into hazy impressions of familiar landmarks.
“We’re excited to be working with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute to temporarily transform this spectacular site,” said Deirdre and Nicholas McDermott, principals of Future Expansion.“The installation is designed for three scales of experience: the deeply creased exterior makes spaces for individuals; the interior room offers an intimate panorama for small groups; and the north-facing wedge presents a platform toward the plaza. We hope that the installation opens new possibilities for interaction and experiences while reinforcing the pure public essence of the site.”
The installation will remain on view to the public on the North Flatiron Public Plaza at Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street through the holidays as part of the Partnership’s “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” programming. The installation is permitted through NYC DOT Art and is open to the public daily, weather permitting, through January 1.
The closed-call competition began in June 2017, when the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute— a non-profit that organizes design competitions, public programs, and research to make cities better places— invited ten design and architecture firms to submit proposals. Invited firms were: BAS; FIRM a.d. with Marman and Borins; Future Expansion; Hive Public Space; Kyle May, Architect; Practice; The Principals; and Schaum/Shieh.
A jury with expertise across the worlds of design and public art, including representatives from the Flatiron Partnership and Van Alen Institute’s board of trustees, reviewed the proposals.
“These installations have become a neighborhood tradition enjoyed by those who live, work, or visit Flatiron during the holiday season, and take part in our annual ’23 Days of Flatiron Cheer’ celebration,” said Jennifer Brown, Executive Director of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership. “Flatiron Reflection most certainly will become a destination for people who already are in love with Flatiron—or are visiting our neighborhood for the first time. We are proud to partner with Van Alen Institute and Future Expansion, and invite all New Yorkers– and your holiday guests–to visit Flatiron this season!”
“This installation is the latest of four rewarding years of collaboration between Van Alen Institute and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership on the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition,” said David van der Leer, Executive Director of Van Alen Institute. “The initiative has become a valuable platform for launching new practices, a visible celebration of inventive, temporary designs that enliven public space during a chillier season, and an opportunity to understand how these spaces impact our minds and bodies.”
“It’s hard to believe that this is the fourth year that DOT Art has partnered with the Flatiron Partnership to activate the Flatiron plazas with specially commissioned holiday installations, said NYC DOT Assistant Commissioner of Design + Art + Wayfinding Wendy Feuer. “The glistening materials and choir-like sculptural formation will prompt passersby to engage with the art, while serving as a backdrop for festive programming throughout the holiday season.”
Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition – Invited Proposals
Future Expansion | Flatiron Reflection Flatiron Reflection is a publicly spirited space that encourages new experiences of the city, new modes of dwelling in the plaza, and new views of its context. A bundle of shimmering tubes creates a fragmented column at the scale of the public plaza. The fluted perimeter offers niches that can be occupied, while a panoramic central space opens out like a stage into the plaza. The conical interior form cuts out the visual noise of the city to isolate the image of the Flatiron Building and its neighbors on the skyline. The project is designed to be experienced both up-close and from a distance, in the round. As you walk around it, the play of light, shadow, and reflection changes its appearance against the background of buildings and trees. From a distance, the folds create soft reflections that become clearer as you approach: Indistinguishable shapes sharpen into hazy impressions of familiar landmarks.
Annie Barrett | Flatiron Moon Flatiron Moon is an architectural installation that draws on the celestial figure of the moon and its location at an urban crossroads to symbolize the plurality of seasonal celebrations and traditions around the time of the winter solstice. A large “moon” form appears from afar to be a singular sphere, but as visitors draw closer and circulate through the plaza, the installation is revealed to be an unexpected and playful sequence of overlaid moon forms and spaces. The simple steel frame is clad in off-the-shelf perforated and expanded steel mesh, selectively finished with color and reflectivity to produce dynamic moiré effects. Full, half, and crescent moon forms appear to wax and wane as pedestrians move around the plaza; these optical effects are enhanced by daytime shadows and nighttime illumination. The cycles of fluctuating shapes and effects reflect the multiplicity of seasonal holidays and beliefs, and amplify its intersection with the city grid.
The Principals | Blur New York City has produced another U.S. president—the first since FDR—yet exclusionary new policies might make the city less appealing for tourists who have come to recognize the city as a melting pot that celebrates all cultures during the holiday season. Blur spotlights the city’s diversity by blurring together all New Yorkers under one holiday roof. Three polycarbonate cell walls shelter locals, transplants, and tourists under a single kaleidoscopic canopy— providing a place for positive community action and celebrating the cultural syncretism that lends New York City its vibrancy. The pavilion will host coat and food donation drives with a touch-sensitive collection bin at its center. As people donate items, the touch-sensitive bin links the pavilion to each donation through pulses of light and sound, creating a visual metaphor for the community-building process and the blurring of cultural lines.
Kyle May | MIA MIA is an urban oasis: a moment of calm from the visual noise of the city and the winter weather. In the center of a triangular pavilion lies a lush garden, inviting visitors to relax, daydream, and enjoy the city in an unexpected way. Entered from the southeast corner, its thin perimeter loggia is lined with black steel fins that align to key vantage points in the surrounding context, allowing open views into the central garden and welcoming passersby inside, even from a distance. The exterior gives clear views into the oasis, while a courtyard space is lined with one-way mirrors to filter out the fast-moving traffic and the hustle of holiday shoppers. MIA offers an intimate moment of tranquility in the busy city; like a hearth, it is a social space where pedestrians escape from anonymous daily routines to experience a shared, unexpected moment of warmth.
Hive Public Space | Winter Bloom Winter Bloom encourages interactions and human connections, creating memorable emotions during the holiday season. Drawing on the playfulness of spinning while watching the world around you, Winter Bloom is a series of motion-sensitive seats that circle in place around a central sculpture. Activated by participants, the spinning seats produce an increasing intensity of light and color the more visitors join in. The dynamic installation promotes playfulness and encourages everyone, young and old, to channel their inner child—which is what the holiday spirit is all about. The installation would be further brought to life by a variety of programs, art-making activities, and interactive performances.
Schaum/ Sheih |The Iceberg and the Forest The Iceberg and the Forest provides a moment for pause in the otherwise relentless rhythm of the season— an outpost for reflection. Situated on a triangular 25 degree street corner, the plan of the Flatiron Building remains one of the most iconic in the history of architecture. That simple deviation from the grid produces an exquisite example of design at the crux between the city and architecture, pattern and form. The Iceberg and the Forest leverages this angle to produce a similar tension between a singular, luminous object and the field of trees in its orbit. The Iceberg serves as a bold, simple backdrop with eight 25 degree cone-shaped trees excavated from its mass. Each excavation cuts a different angle across the grain of panels, giving each tree its unique personality when lit. Programmable lights allow each space within the iceberg to be lit independently for different events. The trees form a staging ground for events supported by the playful interaction of light, color, and form.
Practice | SnoMad SnoMad elevates the ordinary to shift our perceptions of the everyday. A space for celebration, reflection, and community in the midst of the bustling and vibrant Madison Square Park neighborhood, SnoMad re-orients concrete jersey barriers designed to block and separate, repurposing them to define the edges of an outdoor room for gathering, reflection, and community. Radially arrayed around a central focal point, the concrete barriers form an iconic space for celebrating the holiday season. SnoMad is an expression of multiple points of view, simultaneously offering opportunity for privacy and public display: Its unexpected porosity despite the solidity of its concrete material embodies the paradox of its delicate but legible design. SnoMad celebrates the unique qualities of each individual: The most ordinary can be made extraordinary.
FIRM | Snomaxions During the holiday season, a family of four abstract, colorful figures will gather in Flatiron Plaza: the Snomaxions! These forms address themes of diversity and unity, and identify the plaza as a gathering place. Their geometric shapes reference the way snowflakes create infinite variety from a common structural logic. The Snomaxions anthropomorphize the iconic abstract forms of snowflakes to invite participation and dialogue in celebration with local communities. Made of translucent acrylic and illuminated from inside, the Snomaxions also address the role light plays in bringing people together during the dark winter months, bathing the plaza in colorful patterns of light. Their shared geometry allows the component parts of the four figures to be efficiently reproduced, the repeating circles joined with stainless steel clips. Each figure is free-standing and connected to a galvanized steel base without the requirement of additional anchoring.
For more information and images of the submitted proposals, click here.
Throughout the holidays, the Partnership is encouraging visitors to use the hashtag #FlatironReflection on Twitter and Instagram to share images of the installation to be entered into a contest to win prizes from local businesses.
Sponsored by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership, Flatiron Reflection and the accompanying programming “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” are made possible with generous support from Presenting Sponsor Meringoff Properties, Supporting Sponsors Sony Square and 212 Fifth Avenue, and Contributing Sponsor Porcelanosa.
Competition Jury Members Nick Athanail, The Corcoran Group and Flatiron Partnership board member; Michael Bierut, Partner, Pentagram; Emily Colasacco, New York City Department of Transportation Art; Courtney Whitelocke, New York City Department of Transportation Art; Jessica Healy, Van Alen board member; Michael Szivos, SoftLAB; Jennifer Brown, Executive Director, Flatiron Partnership; Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny, Partner, SITU Studio; Ahmed El Husseiny, Partner, AE Superlab; David van der Leer, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute; and, Debra Simon, Director, Times Square Arts.
About the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District, formed in 2006, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the area’s reputation as one of New York’s most vital and exciting neighborhoods. This is accomplished by maintaining a clean and safe environment for the district’s businesses, residents and visitors; by spearheading area improvement projects; and by marketing the diverse business and retail options in this vibrant and historic neighborhood.
About Van Alen Institute At Van Alen Institute, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions.
About Future Expansion Future Expansion, led by partners Deirdre and Nicholas McDermott, is a Brooklyn based design office working on projects in architecture and urbanism. Future Expansion’s clients include the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Narciso Rodriguez, as well as private developers and individuals. www.future-expansion.com