Art Around NYC – BMW Guggenheim Lab

This summer was a pretty exciting time for The Guggenheim Museum here in NYC.  Along with stillspotting (    ) nyc they also collaborated with BMW on the beginning of a really cool six year project, called the BMW Guggenheim Lab.  

Here is the description from the official website: “Part urban think tank, part community center and public gathering space, the Lab is conceived to inspire public discourse in cities around the world and through the BMW Guggenheim Lab website and online social communities.”  I love this graphic which they used to make up their logo, it is constantly changing based on thoughts people can enter on the website, almost like a live twitter feed!  Here are two additional versions that I spotted online on two different days:

The project will continue for 6 years, visiting 9 cities across 3 continents, with structures designed by 3 different architects.  There are three 2 year cycles, and each cycle will follow one structure from one city in North America, to a city in Europe and finally a city in Asia.  This first cycle began in New York this summer with the fabulous structure designed by Atelier Bow-Wow (a firm from Tokyo) and will now travel to Berlin this Spring and then on to Mumbai later next year.  Then a new 2 year cycle will begin with a new structure, and a new 3 cities.  Here’s a great photo of the lab from their website:

And another great photo from the website, taken by Paul Warchol, showing the lab from the street right outside the gates.

I was lucky enough to see it under a few different scenarios during its 16 week stay in NYC.  We visited as a group during an average day and got to play the funny game they had set up, called Urbanology which you can still play online here.  Then I attended a few fun evening events, including an awesome concert from Norah Jones and The Little Willies.  Here are a few of the best photos from that, they closed the gauzy white curtains to create almost a tent atmosphere, and with the lights and music it felt like a really fun outdoor club!

The structure by Atelier Bow-Wow is designed almost like a theater fly, where all of the equipment and furniture can be loaded into the rigging above, with open flexible space below.  Its constructed from carbon fiber, really amazing new light weight technology that is being used to make boats and even airplanes! (All these photos were taken during my various visits to the lab, unless I mention otherwise.)

The lot is where an old brownstone building once stood, and has been owned by the Parks Department of NYC for decades but has sat vacant and behind gates until now.  The brick walls that enclosed the space were covered in graffiti, which I think gave it a really great urban feel and is kind of gorgeous in its own right.  (The photo on the right shows the game board for Urbanology.  They had really cool ‘game pieces’ fabricated too!)

In addition to the main building there were also two smaller wooden structures, a cafe and the bathroom facilities.  The park made sort of a T shape, so while the lab structure was in the main body of the T, there was open park along the top piece, with a wood structure at each end.  These wood buildings were much closer to traditional Japanese architecture, and were gorgeous in their own right.  I especially loved the wood screening on the bathrooms, the light effects at night were just stunning!

Unfortunately the lab has now closed here in NYC, but if anyone lives near Berlin or Mumbai you should stay tuned for future events!  And remember, there will be two additional structures visiting two new North American cities (the specific cities are still being kept under wraps) over the next 6 years so if you think this looks cool and interesting sign up on the website to be kept in the loop with information.  And if you happen to be visiting NYC in 2013 there will be an exhibition at The Guggenheim Museum about the discussions that took place during the first two year cycle.  Here are a few closing shots of the lab during twilight.

Have a lovely weekend, and stay crafty!  Ciao, Allison

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