In an ever-evolving landscape of global design competitions, how does one begin to separate oneself from the pack? When organizations come together, such as the participatory arts organization FIGMENT, the Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) for the City of Dreams Pavilion design competition, we found that collaboration set the tone from the start. As a result, the winning entry by NYC-based CDR Studio Architects, “The Governor’s Cup,” brought together a robust design team, a troop of 100+ volunteers, and numerous other supporters to make the vision a reality. Ultimately, the one-year process, from submission to realization, allowed an established firm to gain entry into the world of emerging professionals. Now the pavilion is open to the public on the southwest corner of the Parade Grounds on Governors Island throughout the summer.
The design of “The Governor’s Cup” is inspired by tape-lace crochet, only it is constructed from approximately 30,000 plastic cups – a nod to the 100 billion cups that accumulate in landfills each year. The pavilion straddles several trees, connected with turn-buckled cabling. The wind audibly filters through the cups, which act as lacy infill that allows light and shadow to playfully interact with the ground. This massive canopy of cups draws your attention to three “pods” of dangling cups that act as “drapes” enveloping visitors and revealing a world of their own. Suddenly these spaces become a makeshift photo shoot location and playground for adults and kids. The overall configuration forms a place for gathering, interaction, and performance.
One of the most unique aspects of the City of Dreams Pavilion design competition is the outpouring of support by sponsors: the team’s Kickstarter campaign raised more than $14,000 to help pay for the pavilion’s construction – a record for this five-year annual competition. Also important to the competition’s success are the design submission participants (nearly 200 entries were reviewed), fellow professionals, members of our collaborative organizations, and AIA members. A bond among folks stepping out of their typical office roles created a real community around the effort to bring the design to fruition. Led by CDR Studio’s Victoria Rospond, AIA, Ekaterina (Katya) Zavyalova, Kimberly Tate, Assoc. AIA, and Rehanna Rojiani, volunteers lent a hand to build “The Governor’s Cup” – from drilling holes in cups and gluing them together to create the modules and serpentine pieces, to piecing them together and lifting them up into the trees. Here is what some of our team members and volunteers had to say about their experience:
“Beyond showcasing architectural experimentation, it’s also lovely how the City of Dreams Pavilion project collects the good will and energy of so many amazing people. In addition to the core design team, more than 100 volunteers contributed their time and energy to the project. The pleasure and privilege of working with other emerging professionals, individuals passionate in public arts and makers from all stages in life have imbued “The Governor’s Cup” with heart and gusto, keeping us moving forward in the most challenging of times. People come to these types of projects for various reasons, and it was the contribution of each actor, the choreography of all the moving parts, and the resources culled from each supporter of the project that has amounted to “The Governor’s Cup” opening success. The icing on the cake is witnessing the delight and enjoyment of all the visitors to the island.”
Kimberly Tate, Assoc. AIA, CDR Studio
“This project was conceived as an extension of CDR’s ongoing research in pattern structures and valuation of what is often overlooked or discarded. Many of the project ideas were prototyped at a previous installation for the St. Nick’s Alliance at the old Greenpoint Hospital. The idea of a reclaimed and unitized structure is a thread we have been studying since the reconfiguration of trusses for the Carousel Pavilion at Pier 62 in Hudson River Park.”
Jon Dreyfous, AIA, LEED AP, Partner, CDR Studio
“CDR’s staff was friendly and absolutely a blast to work with; even as a volunteer I developed a sense of authorship to the entire project, which really is the theme of FIGMENT: to interact with the artwork as much as possible.”
Ben Lee, Assoc. AIA, LEED Green Assoc., Volunteer
“I’ve been missing the hands-on studio environment. It kind of gets dry when you sit at the computer all day, and all the creativity and action happens inside the monitor and not in your hands. I joined the Governor’s Cup Pavilion volunteer team because I felt the need to build again; to create something with my hands and be part of something large. The experience brought back my hidden passion to create and mingle amongst people in my field.”
Jeanne Chiang, LEED Green Assoc., Volunteer
“The concept behind the serpentine pavilion brought me back memories of when I used to crochet in my childhood. It empowered me and reminded me the importance of how we can apply art techniques as reinforcement in our design decisions.”
Agata Scarlen Whyte, Volunteer
Ruben Ramales, Assoc. AIA, is an independent designer and works part-time at the Trust for Public Land. He was the ENYA Committee’s project manager for the Governor’s Cup Pavilion.