No Place Like Dome
While calls for the City to launch an international design competition for the boardwalk have been met with silence so far, a luminous group of architects, urban planners, and designers have announced a “Rockaway Call For Ideas” for a sustainable waterfront. The top entries will be on view in April in a temporary geodesic dome to be erected in the parking lot at Beach 94th street (see photo of a similar dome).
Initiated by the Museum of Modern Art (Moma) PS1 and MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, the competition seeks ideas for rebuilding the boardwalk and, more broadly, for alternative housing models, creation of social spaces, new uses of public space, protection of the shoreline, and actions to engage local communities.
Although there are no prizes – and submitted ideas are considered “donated”— and the winning selection may not influence City planners, the winner is sure to get worldwide attention. The contest itself has been publicized on Twitter by The Museum of Modern Art which has more than one million followers. Actor James Franco and Helen Clark, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand are among those who’ve alerted their followers as well.
Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MOMA PS1, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art based in Long Island City, is spearheading the effort. Biesenbach, who owns a house in Rockaway, was active in the Rockaway recovery from the start. In the days after the storm he arranged for busloads of volunteers to come and assist in the initial dig out.
Recognizing that Rockaway’s future is at stake and that there is a need for creative debate, Biensenbach said twenty-five selected proposals will be revealed in the press, in social media, and on-site at the Dome. The Dome, donated by Volkswagen, will sit at the beach end of the parking lot on Beach 94th Street. Officially called VW Dome 2, the site is described as a community meeting place and cultural center. Approved by the Parks Department, the Dome is expected to be open within a few weeks and remain in the parking lot through mid-May and then be removed in time for the beach’s official opening Memorial Day weekend.
A jury full of notables from the art and design world including Barry Bergdoll, Peter Eleey, Pedro Gadanho, Niklas Maak, and Hans Ulrich Obrist will join with others, including locals, to choose the winner.
Although not a City sanctioned competition, a City rep said, “We are encouraged that conversations about how to design, plan and rebuild the community are happening all over the place. Engagement and feedback from New York City’s vast intellectual and community resources is absolutely critical.”
Submissions must be in video form and be under 3 minutes. Biesenbach said video presentations will be easier to “show around the world” on the internet and make for exciting viewing in the Dome. Those with ideas but not necessarily skilled in visual arts are encouraged to simply state their ideas “into a camera” and submit the oral presentation. Others, for example, might do a hand drawing or construct a model and video those.
Other than the video requirement the guidelines are free of restraint and meant to encourage a broad range of creative submissions.