April 20, 2011
by Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP

“reOrder: An Architectural Environment by Situ Studio” at the Brooklyn Museum.

Jessica Sheridan

Over the weekend, I visited the Brooklyn Museum to hear Situ Studio discuss its recent installation, “reOrder: An Architectural Environment by Situ Studio.” The site-specific work sheaths the columns in the Great Hall, recently redesigned by Ennead Architects, with fabric and solid surfacing in a way that emulates either spinning hoop skirts or exaggerated parametric manipulation.

It was interesting to listen to the design team talk about the installation — an extremely collaborative process that was both meticulously deliberate and improvisational. Through large- and small-scale mock-ups, they developed a flexible system to pressure-fit collars around the columns with suspended hoops from which fabric reams are wrapped and tailored. The bases of the columns consist of a wood framework on which solid surfacing was heat-formed to create seating and tables. Although the process was pre-determined, the actual construction was intuitive. It wasn’t until they were able to get into the space and start the installation that they decided how each column was going to be wrapped.

reOrder works on many levels. The composition in the space references twirling dancers in a ballroom, a propos for the Great Hall. The design plays off of the columns themselves by blowing their Classical forms out of proportion. During the talk, Situ Studio Partner Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny mentioned that the structure of the Great Hall consists of thin, steel-framed members encased in plaster. The thick column-and-beam enclosures are not structural at all; rather, they are plaster encasements that cover the structure, similar to the fabric wrapping the installation’s substructure. Overall, the installation is whimsical and ironic and it energizes the entire surrounding space. I highly recommend taking a trip to see the piece.

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