Times Sq Electronic Garden

Today’s scarcity of public spaces due to rampant privatization leaves little room for truly enjoyable outdoor respites. In order to produce a unique interpretation of future public space, our design group was challenged to explore the dynamic networked relationships between living and non-living elements. While there have been many points of confluence traditionally between the media-based digital realm and the architecture of open space, the specificity of these relationships and how they are embedded in the urban tapestry often remains unrecognized within the discourses of both disciplines. This installation will fuse that relationship and produce an integrated life-sized garden-like artifact. An NYU student driven full scale group project will be installed outdoors for public display in Times Square for the NYCXDesign festival and Global Design NYU in May 2016.

The “Times Square Electronic Garden” project initiated a conversation about climate change, energy use and green urban spaces. Designed and fabricated by New York University students, this earth bomb or “seed bomb” featured speakers and live sensors among the plants that connected to our URL. The idea was to “re-nature” Times Square so that the public can contemplate new natures within our cities. We invited people to explore soothing living vegetative surfaces and recognize the stark contrast of their hyper-electrified surroundings. The students designed and built an open central sphere for visitors to circulate through so that they could encounter a microcosm of hanging gardens. Around the sphere we created a greenscape of serpentine living benches for rest, gathering, and contemplation. The whole project, start-to-finish, was erected and removed in a 24 hour period on May 10th, 2016. It was a place to reimagine Times Square’s consumer culture into a truly sumptuous environmental future.

 

Early Concept rendering by Theo Mandin-Lee:

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There were several teams on a project this big.  It was divided into the structure team, the grassy hose or balls team, the electronics team, the tendrils team, and the video team.

I was tasked with the management of the structure team.  Since the project would not work without the structure this was no small task.    With the help of the great undergraduates from the Gallatin school we put together Some early model renderings to get a sense of scale.

TS sphere with man 3

TS sphere with a-frames

This model ended up being slightly different by the end of the project since the a-frame tectonic changed to a different style of a-frame.

We began some early meetings to talk about how to bring all of the pieces together.

structure team meeting

First meetings about the components

Early drawings and models of what the grassy balls would look like.

drawings of plantings Early Gassyballs model

early grassyballs model2

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Once we had an idea of how the project should look, we began work on  the individual components.  As one might imagine, this was a fair amount of work.

first grassy balls

The plants team getting started.

grassy balls team

The structure team getting started.

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Laser cutting the panels.

laser cutting panels

And tons more stuff.

 

structure first layers electronics team 4 tendrils team2 structure team plants team structure bottom layer lasercut panels tendrils finished grassyballs growing tendrils team exterior plants electronics team3 electronics team2 tendrils electronics team electronics2 electronics

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structure team7

Then a little paint.image000001 image000002 image000003 image000004 structure 2

and finally it looks like we are ready to break it all down and load it up to take it to Times Square.

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And finally…

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Timessqeg_entrance Grassyhosedetail Grassyhose Grassyhose control detail

And then the public.

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All in all this was an extremely rewarding experience for everyone involved. Special thanks to all of the following:

Co-Principal Investigators: Mitchell Joachim, Louise Harpman, Peder Anker.

Film Media: Keith Miller.

NYU ITP: Namira Abdulgani, Kylin Chen, Ella Dagan, Jordan Frand, Michelle Hessel, Renata Kuba, Gal Nissim, Isabel Paez, Tigran Paravyan, Lutfiadi Rahmanto, Leslie Ruckman, Abhishek Singh, Edson Soares, Katie Temrowski, Jed Watson, Yan Zhao, Yang Zhao.

NYU Gallatin: Theo Mandin-Lee, Jordan Marks, Max Mezzomo, Valerie Mu, Shel Orock, Alex Selz, Henry Wang.

NYU Staff: Karim Ahmed, Jenny Kijowski, Nicholas P Likos, Lillian J Warner, Matthew Tarpley, Shandor Hassan, Shai Pelled.

and John Salveto at Metalform Studio

Sponsored by: GDNYU, NYU Gallatin School, Times Square Alliance, NYCxDESIGN, NYU ITP.