The architectural folly has typically become synonymous with sculpture of a certain scale – around 10’ x 10’ x 10’. This is largely driven by budgetary constraints. However, at Socrates Sculpture Park – in a sea of sculptures, another sculpture doesn’t add more value than itself. Scale is needed to provide a backdrop for all of the other activity happening at the park – the building of the sculptures, the landscape, the visitors.

One of the few permanent constructs within the park is the path – leading from the main entrance to the water’s edge. The path meanders, but Roadblock actually sits directly upon the path, correcting its movement into a straight line. Visitors enter the structure through a small opening on the east side, walk down the long corridor, where context is completely stripped away aside from the sky above, and emerge on the west side of the structure in a small clearing. The clearing is defined by the water, a grove of trees and machinery to the west, and the large white wall to the east. What was once forgotten space is now substantial. From anywhere in the park, the large white wall is present. It is oriented due north, showcasing a substantial change in environment from morning to afternoon.

Roadblock is a long, narrow, pressure-treated wood moment frame clad in DensGlass sheathing. The structure is 160’ long, 24’ tall, and 4’ wide. The structure is built in two levels, from south to north in structural bents – each braced as it is erected. The structure is shim to level, and engineered deformed steel rods are placed to prevent lateral movement and overturn, acting as a temporary foundation. Lateral forces are resisted by a moment frame, made possible by gusset plates at each connection. The frame is then clad in DensGlass sheathing, which is patched, primed, and painted white. All materials are made to be exposed to the weather, so there will be no detrimental weathering.

By reconsidering the entire life-cycle of the materials used in the project, we can actually devise a way of increasing the scale of the project within the budget. If materials are only used temporarily, they can be sold at the completion of the project with only a minimal loss, which is made up by the competition grant. The difference between actual cost and resale value is equal to the production grant. Quality materials can be used, and then repurposed, so nothing ends up in the dumpster.

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

Program: Cultural, Pavilion

Status: Complete

Size: 800 SF

Location: Queens, NY

Architect: KM,A (Kyle May and Seth Salcedo)

Images: KM,A