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February 5, 2018
by AIA New York
Oculi by Austin+Mergold in collaboration with Maria Park, and consulting engineers Chris Earls (Cornell) and Scott Hughes (Silman).
Oculi by Austin+Mergold in collaboration with Maria Park, and consulting engineers Chris Earls (Cornell) and Scott Hughes (Silman).
Oculi by Austin+Mergold in collaboration with Maria Park, and consulting engineers Chris Earls (Cornell) and Scott Hughes (Silman).
Oculi axonometric view by Austin+Mergold in collaboration with Maria Park, and consulting engineers Chris Earls (Cornell) and Scott Hughes (Silman).

AIA New York is excited to announce that the winner of the 2018 City of Dreams Competition is Oculi by Austin+Mergold in collaboration with Maria Park (Cornell) and consulting engineers Chris Earls (Cornell) and Scott Hughes (Silman).

The annual competition is hosted by FIGMENT, the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) , and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY). The City of Dreams Pavilion, so named for its focus on the future of a world that faces strains on both economic and natural resources, aims to promote sustainability-oriented thinking amidst the architecture and design communities, requiring designers to consider the environmental impact of their designs from materials sourcing to disposal (or ideally reuse) of waste at the end of the season.

The winning proposal will reuse old metal grain bins, vestiges of the American agro-industrial age, hearkening back to how the medieval inhabitants of Rome reoccupied the remains of the Ancient Empire—with a bizarre combination of pragmatism and poetry. Grain bins is our contemporary spolia; as such these structures can be both useful and fanciful.

The bins, which dot the fields of upstate New York, will be brought to the city, establishing a visual connection between urban and rural modes of living. The elevated oculi will frame unobstructed views of the sky and track the path of the sun, producing a range of shadow patterns augmented by color and sound. The interiors of these suspended rooms will be painted particular colors of the daytime sky. As viewers look up through the oculi, the colors of the walls of the silo will at times match the color of the sky.

Following the de-installation of Oculi, the bins will be reconstructed as an experimental housing cluster in central New York. There, interior views into the repurposed bins will occasionally reveal colors of a New York City summer sky.

The team will work with FIGMENT, ENYA, SEAoNY, and Governors Island to select the exact site for Oculi, refine the design, obtain necessary approvals, and fabricate and install the pavilion on the island. Pending approvals and fundraising, this temporary art structure will be assembled on Governors Island and open to the public for the summer 2018 season

FIGMENT is accepting tax-deductible donations to support the fabrication, installation, and maintenance of the pavilion on Governors Island for the 2018 summer season. Donations can be made by following the link here. The project will likely also be launching its own funding campaign.

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