“The original gallery burned down and was severely damaged last year in November,” said Monika Wuhrer, founder and curator of the Open Source Gallery. A 5-alarm fire in the gallery’s neighboring building destroyed it completely. Six months later, Wuhrer found a new permanent space in Park Slope and wanted to take the gallery in a new, innovative direction. “We then decided to contact about 15 architects and build it green companies.”
Walking through Park Slope, it’s easy to miss the gallery amid the historic residential townhouses. The Open Source Gallery is a small, brick, converted garage, with its original carriage doors still in place. When the curators were first moving in, the place had no heat or insulation, and the cramped space gave it more of a homely feel rather than that of an art institution. This however, is what made Open Source special and unique to the community.
“The goal of our project was to pool as many ideas as possible, then determine the best ones for implementation — ones that were simple, practical, elegant and efficient in heating our space for the winter while lowering our energy costs,” the curators said.
The open call garnered plenty of interest from green architects and designers. The groups included Loadingdock5, Build It Green! NYC, Right Environments, Gregory Duncan Architect, Ryan Schede Studio, and Prospect Architecture. After much consideration, the gallery decided to build an energy model with the aide of Gregory Duncan. The model would document and chart the space’s energy use as they implement the energy-saving changes and improvements.
“Each idea would be viewed as an experiment. We would establish baseline data that shows our current energy use and then compare against each idea as they are implemented,” said Wuhrer. “We would also measure the effectiveness of each idea — whether it fulfilled the goal of providing adequate heat during the cold winter months.”