Summer Brings Cooling Public Art to New York City

Molly Dilworth, a Brooklyn-based artist, won the New York City Department of Transportation reNEWable Times Square design competition. The competition sought new design ideas for temporary surface treatments in Times Square. Dilworth’s winning project, “Cool Water, Hot Island,” will add a bold new temporary surface to the central plaza’s streetscape in mid-July.

According to TreeHugger, Dilworth’s design is both graphically compelling and educational — it helps raise awareness about the urban heat island effect and cities’ contribution to climate change. The design is “composed of a graphical representation of NASA’s infrared satellite data of Manhattan and focuses on the urban heat-island effect, where cities tend to experience warmer temperatures than rural settings.”

The New York City Department of Transportation adds that the design will make Times Square more comfortable in the summer and add a counterpoint to the blitz of the billboards. “The proposed design’s color palette of striking blues and whites reflects more sunlight and absorb less heat – improving the look of these popular pedestrian plazas while making them more comfortable to sit in. The color and patterns evoke water, suggesting a river flowing through the center of Times Square, and they also provide a compelling visual counterpoint to the reds, oranges and yellows of the area’s signature marquees and billboards.” 

“Cool Water, Hot Island” is expected to unroll in Times Square by mid-July.

In another part of NYC, Governors Island just hosted Figment NYC, a weeklong festival focused on interactive, participatory art. Metropolis magazine wrote that the festival included artworks, and semi-permanent installations like a mini-golf course, sculpture garden, as well as “Living Pavilion,” the winner of this year’s City of Dreams pavilion design competition. 

Created by New York architects Behrang Behin and Ann Ha, Living Pavilion is a “low-tech, zero-impact installation that employs reclaimed milk crates as the framework for growing a planted surface similar to a green wall. The pavilion’s assembly is simple and modular, relying on common materials such as heavy-duty packaging straps and weather-treated wood for its installation,” says Figment NYC. To provide respite from NYC’s humid summer, the pavilion was designed to be cool inside. “The pavilion offers a shaded environment that is maintained at a cooler temperature because of evapotranspiration from its planted surfaces.”

When the exhibition ends, the structure will be taken down piece by piece and consumed or reused. “As the vaulting form of the pavilion hits the ground, it unfolds into a mat of crates planted with crops that can be harvested and distributed to the community. At the end of the season, its modular design will allow easy disassembly, and distribution of the planted milk crates to the New York area for use in homes, public places, and community gardens.”

The Living Pavilion can be viewed on New York’s Governor’s Island until October 3.

Image credits (1) NYC Department of Transportation, (2) Figment NYC

2 thoughts on “Summer Brings Cooling Public Art to New York City

  1. Jessica 07/02/2010 / 7:45 am

    Please note: The City of Dreams pavilion design competition was organized by a partnership among FIGMENT NYC, the American Institute of Architects NY Chapter’s Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA), and the Structural Engineering Association of New York (SEAoNY).

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