Monday, January 17, 2011

Cooper Union to Cooper Square Hotel - pt 1

This is part one of a two part post about my piece  "Cooper Union to Cooper Square Hotel". 

The Abraham S. Hewitt Building, part of The Cooper Union, was built in 1905 on the site of a former Armory. It was originally meant to grow to six stories, but it only made it to two.  I've heard various reasons why, one is that Cooper ran out of money before it was completed, another is that the building was so heavy it started to sink.  The building consisted of a grandiose lobby with wide stairs flanking its sides, yet it only rose 2 floors.  It had two levels of basements, and the bottom-most had a gigantic furnace that for years pumped out steam heat for both itself and the Foundation Building.  I thought the building always felt kind of melancholy, in that it knew it was meant to be more but could never live up to its potential as it was.

Some students (Natsuko Uchino and Alex Haring and others I believe) started a project documenting the building before it was demolished but it never came to fruition.  There are a bunch of photos out there somewhere of the interior of the building.  I have some.  Maybe someday they'll see the light of day again.

I got to go on a tour when they were demolishing the building, and our guide told us that the steel beams used in the structure were military grade (post WWI) and very heavy.  The demo crew had a very hard job.  When I was a student the building was used mostly for administrative purposes, but before the Engineering building was built in the 1950's it housed the Engineering school.   In the mid 1990's it was converted to classrooms and studio spaces for the Art and Architecture school.  It's demolition displaced many students and while the new building was being built they were shipped out to temporary studios in Long Island City.  Once the Hewitt building was leveled a massive hole was dug, and a rectangular form sprung forth, which was later clothed in a sort of bunched mesh.  The whole process took two and a half years.  This new building was designed by Morphosis Architects, lead by Thom Mayne.   

extensive wirednewyork forum thread with lots of info about the project

Time lapse video of the Hewitt Building being torn down and the new building being built. "This is two and a half years of construction at about 4 frames per day up until May 24, 2009".  I've often wondered how many times I might be in this video, walking to work.

Cooper Union, Hewitt Building
picture from Flickr user maayanpearl of the interior right before demolition

Here is my collage:

And the images it is made up of (+ a few extras)

Image I found of the Hewitt Building from 1992.  The big black constructivist looking thing in front is a sculpture I made sophomore year of college (!), this was documentation taken right before it went into the dumpster.  Note the blinds and plants in the windows.

2003 - the day of the blackout.  I remember staying at work for a while after it happened, since no one knew quite what was going on.  I grabbed some expired film and a camera and took some shots around the area.

2004.  Note "Forever Tall", a CITYarts sponsored mural created in response to 9/11 by lead artists Hope Gangloff and Jason Search (both Cooper Union alums) in collaboration with students from the community and across the city, is still there.  It was painted over in 2004, and an explanation of why can be found in this The Villager article.

2006 - as the building was being cleared.

2006 - demolition starts.


2006 - Note: The Cooper Square Hotel is in its beginning stages, and the wall where "Forever Tall" was is now orange.


2006 - from inside the fence.

2006 - from inside the fence.  Imprint of stairs were the ones leading to the basement from the front of the lobby.




"Lost East Village" set on Flickr by rollingrk

Just found this Lost East Village set on Flickr by rollingrk which contains many "before" photos of places along the Bowery and other East Village buildings that have been replaced by new ones.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sculpture for Living

The building named "Sculpture for Living" is located on Astor Place and Cooper Square (near where the Bowery officially begins). My knowledge of this space began in 1990, when it was a parking lot surrounded by a short disheveled fence. The color darkrooms at Cooper Union overlook this former parking lot plus the Carl Fischer clock above. These were mainstays in terms of what to look at while you were waiting for your print to process. (The clock used to work, and in fact one year the long hand blew off in the wind, but the small hand still spun around). In the early 2000's a Rem Koolhaas designed hotel was chosen to be built on this spot (the rather humorous looking model was lovingly nick named "the cheese grater"). Post 9/11 the idea was scrapped, the land leased to a developer by its owner (Cooper Union), and circa late 2003 the condo building designed by Charles Gwathmey that you see today began rising . The parking lot picture in this collage is from 2001, right around when the original hotel design was announced. It took over a year to build.

Website for the Sculpture for Living

Link to article about the Rem Koolhaas designed hotel

Here is my collage:

And the photos that make up the collages (with an extra shot or two, one that shows the Carl Fisher clock):

circa 2001
early 2004

Cooper Union in the background

off the roof of Cooper Union

also off the roof of Cooper Union. sad hands-less clock.

today.  the clocks hands are painted on.

Friday, January 7, 2011

NY Times St. Marks Place article

here in today's issue, highlights include the oldest buildings on the block and a brief history.

Thank You! + "Time and Space on the Lower East Side"

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to the opening last night, it was a great turnout and nice to see some old and new faces in the crowd?

After some much needed sleep I'll start posting about the show again, but right now I wanted to pass on this book project which has come to light by Brian Rose and Ed Fausty.  I remember seeing some of it on the web, and as I was installing at La Mama a desk copy of it was part of the previous La Mama "La Familia" show, as well as an image by Ed Fausty of East 1st Street..

This should put to rest the question I get a lot...."was it really that bad here back in the day?".   "Bad" is a relative term, but mostly I find myself these days saying "well, there are just a hell of a lot more people around.  the place is more full".  Bombed out empty buildings are now fixed up and occupied, new buildings have been built in empty lots, the trash is actually picked up, etc, etc.  When you look at old aerial maps you see lots of buildings, but there are no indicators of how many were empty, especially over in the alphabets.

There are some spaces in the newer photos that I've shot repeatedly, and some which included elements I've used for my pieces in the show.  Its always great to see how others frame the same materials, empty lots, sequences of buildings, etc.  Since the photos in their book were shot using 4x5 cameras, the pictures feel like formal statements of the times.  I'm excited to buy my own copy and to give the book to someone who hasn't lived here for 20 years to see if they can differentiate between the "now" and 'then' photos.   I wonder if in 20 years it will have changed again as much as it has today? 

Anyway, take a look, the preview is available on Blurb, and its for sale there too.  I was surprised at what a good job Blurb did, its a beautiful book!

Now, I seriously need to get some coffee......

Thursday, January 6, 2011

some installation pictures

I was up til 4AM last night installing, and up bright and early today to finish, but I wanted to post a few pictures from my point and shoot of the work. 

Also, thank you Sonya G., Lauren P. and especially Simone!!!  There is no way I could have finished all of this without you!

More to come.....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

[flo#7]-Bowery/Houston........What I've been working on......

Sorry it's been awhile since my last post, I've been in high gear production mode for the show for many many many days now.  If you know my work you know it is BIG, so these jps really don't do the work justice. 

Much more to post coming up soon, but here's a teaser of some of the images that will be wrapping around the walls of La Mama Gallery, along with artist Wil Ortega's work "Faster, Bigger, Cheaper". 

The show is titled "Phase Shift"., and the opening is this Thursday (!) from 6-8, stop by if you can!  It is up until January 30th.

Note: I still want to put together a booklet in conjunction with the show but it most likely won't be ready for the opening.  I'll post here when its ready.  ALSO I am going to try to make a limited edition run of inkjet prints (to sell) of the collages (not collaged, just the Photoshop files printed on some fancy paper), in the future.  I've never done this before with my work, so we'll see how it goes.  Will post here when that happens.

OK - on to images......(I'll deconstruct them in later posts)

Avalon-Chrystie to Bowery Hotel

Bowery Bar to 2 Cooper Square

Sculpture for Living
Cooper Union (Hewitt Building) to Cooper Square Hotel