The future of the city is reliant on sustainable permanent infrastructure.
The largest portion of resources in any temporary pavilion goes towards structural concerns: supporting a canopy, lateral resistance, overturning, etc. Eliminating these concerns allows each future pavilion, canopy, or artwork the opportunity to become simpler, more cost effective, and potentially larger. The continually incurred costs of the pavilions can be reduced by permanent structural infrastructure.
The infrastructure also gives designers an existing condition to work with or against. Constraints breed ingenuity, while a blank canvas is an artist’s biggest fear.
Chameleon is a simple steel grid – 12 bays, each measuring 30’ x 30’ x 30’. The structure is of a large enough scale to sustain many activities and be monumental, yet delicate enough to disappear when not in use. The slender columns are black so they virtually disappear into the foliage beyond. It is not flashy; it is not an icon itself; it is a piece of infrastructure which allows many activities to happen in, on, and around it. For instance: volleyball courts within the structure; as an armature for stages, lighting and projections for concerts; as support for bleachers for nearby soccer matches; an armature for a ropes course; an armature for trapeze; a frame for projected movies; a structure allowing canopies for markets and fairs; a backup for handball; a frame for batting cages and golfing ranges; etc.
By providing an armature for many various activities, Figment is actually able to attract new audiences – the pavilions and canopies are no longer only destinations, but are also appreciated by a larger and more varied public. Each group comes for their specific reason, but each attraction is enhanced by a larger audience.
The capital costs for the structure are divided among invested parties, who are purchasing equivalent percentage rights to use the structure for a designated time period (ten years). The burden of programming is therefore no longer placed upon Governor’s Island, the Trust, or Figment, but is instead spread among the invested parties. Each entity has a vested interest in programming the space during their days of use. Meanwhile, Figment’s installations are a constant overlay – always present, interacting with each varied use.
As the structure is altered, reprogrammed, and modified, it becomes an icon for the parade grounds. However, this icon is not static, but a transformable icon – radically different each time someone visits. As visitors move to the redeveloped southern tip of the island, many will move through the parade grounds, passing through Chameleon, which acts as a gateway. They will be able to witness and partake in the day’s activities as well as the season’s new installations on a scale they have never before witnessed. And like a chameleon, every time they visit it will have changed – with new artwork, new activities, and new visitors.
Client: Figment NYC
Program: Cultural, Pavilion
Size: 10,800 SF
Location: New York, NY
Architect: KM,A (Kyle May, Adam Feldman, Maria Moersen)