Get ready! For the next couple days, a giant neon pink and blue worm will snake along the Bowery and Downtown Manhattan will buzz with green ideas. The occasion? The Festival of Ideas for the New City, an ambitious new event designed to “harness the power of the creative community to imagine the future city.” Announced more than a year ago, the festival officially kicks off tonight with a keynote speech by Rem Koolhaas. From panel discussions with artists and architects to local food cooking stations and urban gardening workshops, the Festival of Ideas will cover all aspects of sustainable design.
The event is a major collaboration between Downtown organizations, with the New Museum as its founding partner. The first three days will be filled with a variety of panels, lectures and workshops that address the themes of the festival: The Heterogeneous City, The Networked City, The Reconfigured City, and The Sustainable City. Starchitect and Inhabitat favorite Rem Koolhaas will give the keynote address tonight.
On May 6, Antanas Mockus, former President of the National University of Colombia and former Mayor of Bogota, will give the keynote address for The Sustainable City symposium. Last year, Mockus ran for President of Colombia on the Green Party Ticket, and when he was Mayor of Bogota, water usage dropped 40 percent. The Sustainable City panel will include will four eco-minded mayors: Sergio Fajardo of Medillin, Colombia; John Fetterman of Braddock, Pennsylvania; Michael Nutter of Philadelphia; and Greg Nickels, former mayor of Seattle.
May 7th will be the highlight of the festival with StreetFest taking over the Bowery from Houston to Spring Streets. More than 75 local businesses have planned events or workshops. The brightly colored worm-like tubes will be the tents for the StreetFest. Designed by local studios Family and PlayLab, the modular units are 10 feet tall and 20 feet long, and the exterior is waterproof nylon. According to the DOT, the tents will be reused for other street fairs.
For StreetFest, the Hester Street Fair will transform into a local food festival, Brooklyn Grange Farm will host a stand with DIY gardening kits and a selection of seedlings, and Elastic City will present a Solar Alignment Walk to help visitors reframe their relationships with the sun — just to name a few. Plus, Truck Farm will be there, along with a solar-powered art studio from Solar One. Dozens of local galleries, like Storefront for Art and Architecture, Hendershot Gallery, Aicon Gallery, created special exhibits themed for the festival, and murals will be painted on the roll-down security gates of storefronts along the Bowery, courtesy of seventeen artists chosen by the New Museum and the Art Production Fund.
There are literally hundreds of awesome events happening, so visit the Festival’s interactive website and start planning your days now! There are a few things that cost money, like the panel discussions and performances, so you’ll want to buy you’re tickets ASAP.