It doesn’t strive to be the center of attention, but to strengthen the art and educational activities in the park. It responds to the axis of the entryway and Broadway, enhancing the park’s visual presence upon approach, and provides a permeable barrier between parking and educational spaces. Most importantly, it allows the park’s users to reconfigure the pavilion in myriad ways to accommodate various needs: an individual classroom, a backdrop, stalls for a farmers’ market; the endless spatial re-configurations cost no money and happen in seconds.

In a sea of sculptures, some neutrality is necessary. The grass and trees of the park function as the neutral floors and white walls of a traditional gallery. But given the increased interest in the educational and community activities hosted in the park, the structures that house them must be enhanced while not competing with the sculptures. They must facilitate while maintaining neutral. They must be strong, yet shy.

Blindsided is a steel framed grid, seven bays long, each bay measuring 10’ x 10’ x 12’ tall. Its roof overhangs the steel grid to cover an area of 16’ x 74’, providing almost 1,200 SF of additional covered space for the park’s activities. Between each steel column is a 10’ wide x 12’ tall reinforced aluminum blind, set into an aluminum channel on both sides. The blinds can be open, partially closed or fully closed. In addition, there are three orientations of the blinds themselves – front closed, open, back closed. Each scenario brings a different face to the pavilion.

Blindsided is positioned along the Broadway axis as it visually penetrates the park. This position gives greater presence to the park as passersby and patrons approach. It is also sited to simultaneously act as a barrier between educational activities and parking, and to facilitate a connection between the educational activities and the park’s open space when parking is not in use. Due to its multiple configurations, it can turn its back on the parking, face the sculpture park, or allow a continuous connection through the site.

With twenty-two blinds, the space can be reconfigured in over four million different ways, and each configuration only takes seconds and costs nothing. It’s literally as easy as opening or closing a blind. If there is private tutoring happening, it can take place in one bay. If a large event is happening, the whole space can be open. If there is a farmers’ market, each bay can be turned into a stall. Since each blind not only has three positions (open, partially closed, closed) but three orientations as well (front closed, open, back closed), there are almost 4 quintillion configurations possible. That means artists and users can get creative with how the structure is used. For example, the back side of the blinds can be painted to allow an instant transformation – when front closed, the pavilion appears all black, but when back closed, instantly a mural is revealed.

Since the pavilion is a steel-framed structure with open areas along two sides, it has many options for how it can be expanded. It provides structural support for additions – rain protection, screens, larger structures, etc. – and its activities can take advantage of the open spaces around it.

Finally, the pavilion can be enhanced with additional educational opportunities – its flat roof allows for rainwater collection that can be stored, filtered, or used as greywater. The roof also allows solar panels to be attached, giving permanent sustainable power to the pavilion and its activities.

Client: The Architectural League of New York and Socrates Sculpture Park

Program: Cultural, Pavilion

Status: Complete

Size: 700 SF

Location: Queens, NY

Architect: KM,A (Kyle May, Dillon Wilson, Katie Gleysteen)

Images: KM,A