Guggenheim Unveils Pop-Up Project for Derelict East Village Lot

By Patrick Hedlund on May 6, 2011 1:46pm 

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

UPPER EAST SIDE — A derelict East Village lot will be transformed into a futuristic art space under plans unveiled by the Guggenheim Museum Friday.

The pop-up project — set to open in New York in August and travel to cities around the world during a six-year tour — will build a raised structure over a long-vacant site on East 1st Street to feature exhbitions and workshops.

The deconstructable, carbon-fiber-made "toolbox," as designers call it, will hover above the lot near Second Avenue, with an open space underneath it acting as a community gathering space during its 10-week stay.

The city-owned lot connects to the under-renovation First Park space along East Houston Street that will include a café and public bathrooms. Entrances to the art space will be on East 1st Street and Second Avenue.

The lot at 33 East 1st St. has long been a source of frustration among neighbors on the block who have worked for years to bring something to the rodent-ridden eyesore.

"We're just so excited because what would have taken many years will happen so quickly," said Ann Shostrom, an artist who's lived in the co-op building next to the rundown lot since 1986, and has helped spearhead community efforts to refurbish it.

"What it is is the last piece of the puzzle for First Park."

The global project, sponsored by BMW and designed by Japanese architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow, touts an advisory committee made up of global mayors, artists, economists, and architects.

Organizers explained that the lab will allow for a broad debate about city planning and public space, as well as raise issues of gentrification and urban development.

"The Guggenheim has long been associated with innovative architecture and design," said Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. "The lab shows that we can roll up our sleeves and get involved in the community."

While the project will eventually move to nine cities in Europe and Asia, the result of stabilizing and resurfacing the neglected site will allow local residents to pursue plans for future projects there, Shostrom said.

Her group, First Street Green, will host a workshop at the lab in September aimed at encouraging the community to discuss future uses for the site.

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