What if one of NYC's most iconic buildings was transformed into a towering vertical farm? Metals in Construction magazine recently sponsored a design contest for the fictional renovation of the city's 50+-story MetLife building at 200 Park Avenue. Among the entries, a unique proposal from Canadian architecture firm Lemay has captured the attention of developers, environmentalists, and comic book fans. The firm’s “Farm Follows Fiction” design envisions the tower as “the world’s tallest farm”, and the proposal is unlike any other in that the designers chose to package their ideas in the form of a quirky graphic novel.
The design contest challenged architects to “Reimagine a New York City Icon” and the Montréal-based firm rose to the challenge with gusto. Lemay’s Farm Follows Fiction proposal (see PDF) imagines a radical transformation for the MetLife (formerly PanAm) building. The new design calls for transforming the skyscraper into a “veritable modernist urban utopia” and the format of the proposal is wild, entertaining, and downright inspired. The initial pages of the comic book-inspired proposal are mostly in monochrome, and color is slowly introduced as the features of the redesign are revealed.
Several beloved Peanuts characters appear in silhouette form to assist in the tour of the design, adding a kitschy and familiar twist to what might otherwise feel like an odd approach to an architectural proposal. But the design itself is not as far-fetched as one might think. As NYC pushes ever forward to create new green spaces, reduce carbon emissions, and find ways to incorporate sustainable food, it’s not difficult to imagine how well a vertical green produce farm in the middle of Manhattan would represent the city’s overall eco-mission.
The design calls for the building to be turned into a green oasis in the city, with a massive vertical farm growing produce to be sold at an onsite market and an elevated park on a wide balcony overlooking the bustling street below. The interior layout of the building is designed to encourage physical activity, without relying on elevators. The Lemay design team also suggests replacing segregated car traffic lanes with pedestrian pathways, to further encourage healthy exercise.
Lemay’s Farm Follows Fiction proposal is one of six finalists in the design competition, and rather than push on to select a single winner, the contest sponsors chose a direction as unorthodox as this proposal. Metals in Construction, along with the competition jurors, decided to divide the $15,000 prize equally among the six teams. All of the winning proposals will be published in an upcoming edition of the print magazine as well as in its digital format.
Images via Lemay