Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park have teamed up to create Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City, a project bringing together four artists and their teams to create new approaches that'll foster growth and development in the ever changing neighborhood of Long Island City. Inhabitat stopped by the Noguchi Museum to get a sneak peak of the exhibition, which opens to the public today, Thursday, October 13. The show will be on display through April 22, 2012.
“Civic Action honors the legacy of Isamu Noguchi and Mark di Suvero, who’s pioneering commitment to Long Island City launched its regional, national, and international profile,” said Jenny Dixon, director of Noguchi Museum. “It is hoped that in exploring creative, integrated approaches to planning – ones that embrace the needs of the neighborhood’s diver stake holders – Civic Action will create a model that can be used by communities across NYC.”
The artists’ ideas are diverse, some simple in their design, others more complex. Each of the teams included an architect, an urban planner or landscape architect, additional artist staff, and a writer to document the progress of each team. The teams began by doing a thorough study of Long Island City, “completely immersing themselves in the physical, social, and cultural history of the community.” The museum and sculpture park helped out by providing physical and digital models of the area, zoning studies, ariel photography, and maps. Artists also looked at studies of Noguchi’s public space projects and di Suvero’s development of Socrates Sculpture Park.
Natalie Jeremijenko, a scientist and new media artist, designed UP_2_U, a futuristic green system that seeks to improve and adapt the energy, transportation, and mobility systems of LIC by aligning them with the needs of human and environmental health. The project uses “smart-city” technology that provides feedback loops on the environmental health of LIC. The ecosystem would be monitored and allowed to thrive through infrastructure that combines biodiversity with human interaction. Alternative forms of distribution and transportation would also be developed with consideration of the environment, such as “ariel flylines” that would be used for manufacturing and distribution ports rather than trucks. Green energy would be the main source of power for the community, such as “solar awnings” on windows and doors.
The human element involves exercise centers throughout the neighborhood that include quirky sports like tree climbing and hula-hooping. “Think Charlie and the Chocolate factory, meets Steve Irwin, meets engineering for people, meets Doctors without Borders,” says Jeremijenko. “Only it’s your own city’s backyard populated with exhilarating devices, marvelous couplings, delicious new foods, and spectacles that are designed to create shared public memories of very possible futures.”
Mary Miss, a trained sculpture artist, presents Ravenswood/CaLL, a repurposed district along the western coastline of Queens named after the Ravenswood strip in LIC. This district would be a small scale example of the City as a Living Laboratory (CaLL), dedicated to developing projects through a collaborative effort between artists and scientists. Described as an “art-infused urban research zone,” it will include a lab where artists and scientists can work together on research projects, with the secondary goal of preventing gentrification in the area by using a dilapidated area for creative causes that empower the established local community.
RirKrit Tiravanija presents the ‘GreenWay and Community Kitchen.’ The exhibit proposes to repave Broadway into a ‘GreenWay’ running straight through the N/Q subway lines into Socrates Sculpture Park. The GreenWay will be used for special events, markets, movie screenings, and block parities in order to better connect two areas of LIC — one which is densely populated, and the other area (around Socrates Sculpture Park) which has little connection to public transportation. It will end with a large community kitchen that will including a cooking area and places to eat.
The final project is the River Shoreline Walk by George Trakas. The River Shoreline Walk is a concentrated effort to rehabilitate the waterfront areas of LIC, by redesigning the shoreline with a new granite boardwalk for the public. The shoreline would be reconstituted as public space, and it would reconcile the TransCanada and ConEd facilities currently in place there by constructing subtle lighting and a public entry to the shore walk on the north side of 36th Avenue Bridge. The Shoreline Walk would connect the culture centers of LIC, such as Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park, with other commercial and community centers throughout the neighborhood.
These exciting projects are similar to other artist inspired initiatives to revitalize Long Island City with the help of artists and architects, while preventing the displacement and gentrification of local residents. These projects also provide a framework to include environmental initiatives as a way to revitalize a community overall.
We highly recommend visiting this enlightening exhibit, and we hope that it will encourage other artists and architects to take a more socially active role within the community. With efforts such as these, artists and architects can now take the role of the social activist, and help spread similar initiatives throughout NYC.
On the last day of the exhibition, Noguchi will host a public forum to engage the community and the artists in a dialogue to discuss the development of the projects, and how they can be implemented. Socrates Sculpture Park will also present large scale prototypes of each of the projects, coinciding with the park’s 25th anniversary.
All photo © Bill Taylor, courtesy of The Noguchi Museum