Beyond The Center Line Competition
Inspiration works in incredibly interesting ways especially when spontaneously felt through dialogue. World renowned architect and writer, Bernard Tschumi had once observed that “movement is an unbelievably powerful device.” The inspiration of this proposal stemmed from recognizing how this quote could be translated in the direct manner of which Park Avenue has continuously evolved over time by all the movement that has surrounded it. Between the first sunken railroad tracks from the nineteenth century to the expansions of the roads to make room for an increasing number of commuters, the narrow interstitial strips of space, also known as the medians, have ironically become one of the most underutilized spaces throughout the city. This proposal looks to challenge and repurpose this area in an effort to create a place of wonder and escape from the non stop flow of distraction seen throughout life in the city. Imagine, amidst this axis of never ending movement, if one could stop time for a meaningful moment of conscientiousness.
This proposal strives to create a tangible installation from the intangible phenomenon of time. The hourglass is one of the most recognized symbols of measuring time. Its seamless, pinched shape creates a funneling effect that physically slows down the descent of each individual grain of sand and thus affects their natural over all movement. Drawing parallels to this dynamic, the horizontal orientation of form with scattered pieces along the site is designed to discreetly imply a broken hourglass putting time on hold.
Drawing from the surroundings between of the blow between E 48th and 49th, Philip Johnson’s Seagram building and Emery Roth’s 299 Park Ave spoke to a time of engineering revolution in their construction which inspired the project’s material palette. These include steel, for its timeless strength, and highly reflective glazing having a more seemingly transient feel. Using one-way mirrors, this installation aims not only to impact the individuals inhabiting the median but also the onlookers of whom will be able to see how others interact within the piece. In its geometry, the mirrored interior serves to distort one’s surroundings enough to get fully immersed into this moment of something unordinary. When viewed perpendicularly within, the stacked mirror effect creates an almost surrealist version of any object in site including oneself. Additionally the centralized view corridor created by the oculus screens away all of the surroundings making one feel as if they are less like a city and more like in a poetically distorted representation of the city’s elegant surroundings.
Imagine being able to experience the general notion of Time in an Instant within such space. A space that can make you conscious of something most people take for granted on a daily basis. An interpretation of architecture and time was beautifully stated by Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa in his essay The Eyes of the Skin, ‘Architecture domesticates limitless space and enables us to inhabit it, but it should likewise domesticate endless time and enable us to inhabit the continuum of time’. As one of our guiding principles throughout this process, we hope to have successfully made you wonder, even for just an instant.