Select Boston artists dream of temporarily enhancing uglyness of idle construction sitesShare
Speaking of design competitions, the Boston Globe recently invited designers to come up with temporary improvements/uses for commercial sites across Boston that, thanks to the recession, have yet to be re-developed. San Francisco is also in on the game, (seemingly) doing more than designing temporary parks, buildings, et al, as a fun intellectual exercise, but I think the Globe has many more interesting ideas.
As the Globe notes, the intended lack of programmatic constraints elicited “whimsical” entries, along with the realistic (might we say sincere) attempts to improve urban life and combat the rise of chronic urban blight around the idled construction sites. You can view a gallery of entries (and vote on your favorite ones) here.
Boston’s Downtown Crossing, the site of the former Filene’s department store, scored the most entries (many included video screens for some reason) from designers hoping to make up for the deep gash that John B. Hynes III has so far failed to heal with his $700 million, 32-story skyscraper. Only a portion of the old store was torn down, with Daniel Burnham’s original 1912 building (partially above) all set for restoration.
Most random: A toss-up between (1) sculptor William Frese’s proposed “abstract apothecary chest” (including gigantic, presumably fake, jewels strewn about the construction site), which frankly strikes me as a un-called-for knock-off of Jeff Koons’ notorious and (…what’s the word…) quirky emerald extravagance and (2) an “algea-powered bioreactor” consisting of modular, move-able “eco-pods,” submitted by Howeler + Yoon Architecture and Squared Design. You know, I’ll go with Frese’s idea as the most random, notwithstanding Downtown Crossing’s jewelry-trade history; somehow Frese succeeded in making me prefer an empty construction site over one filled with artwork.
Most practical: Probably architect Cynthia Bubb’s proposal, consisting of a bike parking lot (for commuters), which would turn into a spot for watching movies on a giant projection screen in the evenings. The Filene’s construction site would be wrapped with a perforated-aluminum skin painted to resemble a trees or a forest.
Most site-relevant: I really like the medicinal garden proposed by landscape architecture firm Ground, Inc.’s, which would sit adjacent to the construction site of the Longwood Center, which is a medical research facility. I’d argue that gardens and landscaping are the most effective ways to beautify run-down areas, vacant lots in particular; a medically themed garden is just inventive, educational (for instance, California poppy has “medicinal” qualities) icing on the cake.
Image courtesy of jbcurio