In mid-December of 2017, we received a call from an associate at one of the most lauded architecture firms in the nation. Little did we know that five months and 48 tons of steel and concrete later, our work would be at the center of the most talked about exhibition in the country.
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination is the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s spring 2018 exhibition and happens to be its largest to-date, taking place across 27 galleries in two locations, The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters.
Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with The Met’s Design Department, the exhibition examines fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism by presenting objects from The Met’s collection alongside papal robes and accessories from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside the Vatican. Contemporary couture items are presented throughout The Met’s Fifth Avenue galleries and The Met Cloisters.
A project of this scale and ambition occurring within such a compressed time frame requires intense cooperation, communication, and organization. Thousands of details and modifications were exchanged, registered, and conveyed in a timely fashion in order to execute and install the myriad components in the right configurations. But just as importantly, New Project was able to work directly with DS+R to translate the firm’s architectural concepts and language into three-dimensional form, ensuring that the vision was executed as conceived while adhering to museum safety standards.
Because of the tight fabrication window, we communicated edits and comments with the team in a 3-D software environment, rather than passing 2-D construction set drawings back and forth. And we collaborated with the designers and engineers to ensure the delicate balance between stability of the displays and management of stress loads was maintained. With that much steel and concrete, we had to be extra cautious that floor loads were dispersed and that all displays passed the engineers’ load tests.
We ultimately fabricated and installed more than 150 individual platforms, pedestals, cases, and custom mannequin mounts based on DS+R’s exhibition vocabulary of straight lines, subtle cruciform shapes, and a muted, industrial palette. We constructed two enormous custom structures: a 40-foot cantilevered wall of acrylic and steel and a 28-foot long glass and steel table to display papal vestments. Upon installation, we worked in concert with the museum’s preparators, conservators, and registrars who precisely placed each priceless artifact and couture piece.
While building and installing large exhibitions is standard operating procedure for New Project, the inclusion of centuries old artifacts and liturgical vestments from the Vatican combined with a celebrity-studded opening covered in every major new outlet the world over made this exhibition unlike any other.
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Fifth Avenue and The Cloisters from May 10 through October 8, 2018.
All in process and install photos by New Project, museum installation photos by Brett Beyer.
Papal vestments displayed in the cantilevered wall we built with custom steel table containing papal copes in the foreground, cassock of John Paul II in the background on view in the Lizzie and John Tisch Gallery in the Anna Wintour Costume Center.
It was announced last year that Calvin Klein had entered into a four-year agreement with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts that will allow the fashion company to license Warhol’s art across its collections and activations. The agreement offers Calvin Klein’s Chief Creative Officer Raf Simons access to the full breadth of Warhol’s creations—including never-before-published works.
New Project was tapped to execute the latest iteration of Calvin Klein’s partnership with the Foundation: Warhol’s Silver Clouds reimagined by Simons as a site-specific installation for the 654 Madison Avenue flagship.
The silver Mylar balloons were printed with images used in the Spring 2018 CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC runway collection (including some from the Death and Disaster series as well as portraits of Warhol pals Dennis Hopper and Sandra Brant). Special fans were painted to match the bright yellow interior scaffolding and installed to ensure the balloons, filled with an exacting measure of helium and air, floated through the space just as they did in Warhol’s Factory and Leo Castelli Gallery decades ago.
New Project undertook several tests, both in the shop and in the store under the cloak of night, to determine the specific mixture needed to fill the balloons, to observe their behavior, and to add features to the space to tune the air flow patterns.
The installation has been a huge success, bringing smiles to patrons who freely interact with the floating works of art. Be sure to catch it while you can—like all things pop, the installation is fleeting. On view at 654 Madison Avenue through February 28, 2018.
After figuring out how to direct the air flow, we customized an armada of fans.
And poles and fixtures.
We inflated and tested the balloons in the shop office first.
Once the Silver Clouds were installed, the store was transformed.
But a lot of adjustments went into the process to make sure the balloons behaved as we wanted. Check out this time lapse video of the overnight test to see what the balloons do when they think we aren’t watching!
It’s been a couple of years, but over the holidays we dusted off the home brew equipment and jumped back into one of our favorite hobbies: custom beer fabrication. Head brewmaster Patrick Barth directed the operations which entailed a batch of Four Seasons Pale Ale followed by an Extra Special Bitter. Thanks to our friends at Bitter & Esters, we used some primo ingredients to ensure our brew would be extra tasty.
After a slightly messy but fun mashing and boiling process, we let the beer ferment for a couple of weeks and monitored it carefully. Another entertaining session of bottling and capping followed to set up the conditioning process which allows the beer to naturally carbonate. Two weeks later, we had some pretty tasty brew on our hands (and in our mugs). The process and the results were so much fun that we’re ready to start on our next batch. If you’ve got a suggestion or want to come by for a taste test, let us know!
We started with quality ingredients: dry malt extract, malt extract, grains, and hops.
Patrick adds the dry malt extract to make the wort.
We monitor the temperature carefully to ensure the wort doesn’t boil.
Mmmm! Fresh, delicious hops!
Dennis inspects the hops. Smells like beer…or something.
Patrick transfers the wort to be cooled and strained.
The cooled wort is transferred to the vessel where it will ferment for a couple of weeks as the yeast does its magic.
Patrick measures the ABV level in the first batch. Looks good!
The beer is transferred from the fermenting vessel to the bucket for easy bottling.
Dan bottles the flat beer so that it can condition and naturally carbonate.
Corinne caps and seals with the handy crimper.
The first case!
The finished product. Thanks to Thiago for the label design.
Vice Media needed to create a unique focal point for a Delta Air Lines event they were recently curating at Kinfolk in Brooklyn. Delta Launchpad was a series of workshops and performances targeting young entrepreneurs and innovators so the event had to shine. Vice Media’s Production Coordinator approached New Project to build an oversized rotating disco ball in the shape of an airplane to cast a little sparkle on the party. Although we only had two weeks to make it happen, we said, “No Problem!”
Our designers quickly drew up a few options in RHINO based on the client-provided concept sketches. The plane components were CNC’d out of foam, assembled as if a model airplane kit, painted, then covered in mirror tiles.
The plane was engineered and suspended to ensure it would rotate smoothly from the ceiling-mounted motor.
After receiving images of the nearly completed plane, our clients were obviously pleased. The Production Coordinator’s comment? “Whoa! I am blown away, it looks amazing!”
Another day, another disco.
Taking her for a test spin
We just completed another inspired window display for Calvin Klein’s flagship store on Madison Avenue. (You may recall our past windows with them including faux clay walls and 20th anniversary celebration display.) Their concept was to create a topographical landscape for their apparel to live in. Inspiration came from desert landscapes of the southwest. To create the models, we incorporated data from actual maps, tweaked it to fit the given spaces and product considerations, and generated cut files for our CNC machine. When all was said and done, there were over 800 discrete pieces with their edges totaling over a mile in length. Then came coloring; three colors dispersed somewhat randomly amongst all the levels. Needless to say, our diligence in labeling every last piece was absolutely essential for ease of assembly.
Check it out if you’re in Manhattan. Madison Ave and 60th street.
think & build
Modular Custom Furniture for Cornell Tech- “It’s Not Our Space, It’s Theirs”
New York City is no stranger to arts-specific educational institutions. Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs are home to Parsons the New School of Design, the School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute, and the New York Film Academy, among many others. Each offering their own set of discipline-focused curricula, these schools have produced countless alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their respective fields. With the recent shift toward the technological and with start-ups securing their place as a permanent fixture of our future, it was only a matter of time before New York’s already impressive educational offerings included a technology-based school which would focus on preparing its students with the information technology skills they’ll need to be at the forefront of the rapidly-changing technological landscape. Enter, Cornell Tech.
Seen as a way to increase entrepreneurship and job growth in the city’s technology sector, Mayor Bloomberg announced the plans for Cornell Tech’s 12 acre Roosevelt Island campus back in 2011. The first phase of construction is slated to be completed in 2017, with the remainder of the campus scheduled to be finished in 2037. In the interim, in order to establish a foot-hold in the city, Cornell Tech has begun offering their graduate program out of a temporary home inside Google’s Chelsea building. The school was looking for a space that is open and flexible, where students, faculty, and guests could interact and collaborate in unique and personalized ways. Enter, New Project.
New Project was contracted by Rockwell Group, a local architectural design firm, to fabricate large mobile modules that the students can move, rearrange, and manipulate to create unique spaces for classes, lectures, study, and lounging. Rockwell Group accurately defines the resulting creation as a “learning toolkit of working hubs and surfaces that encourage collaboration”.
Using Rockwell Group’s original designs, New Project fabricated and installed four freestanding, modular structures in the school’s “Studio” in 2013. Each module was equipped with white boards and cork boards, as well as access to dropped electrical power sources so that students could easily attach computers, projectors, monitors, etc. Various seating and large work surfaces make up the remainder of the space, which could be transformed and moved to accommodate a number of various needs including events, lectures and presentations. Additionally, we built a custom reception desk in the shape of Roosevelt Island, the university’s future home, using layered furniture-grade birch plywood.This desk was later sold to a retailer who said that they wanted to use this as a retail display.
A year and a half later, we’ve returned to the campus and spoke with Cornell Tech staff members Tamika Morales, Administrative Assistant, and Aaron Holiday, Managing Entrepreneurial Officer, to see how the units have been received and manipulated by the students. Here’s what they had to say:NP: In your experience here at Cornell Tech, how have you noticed the students using the furniture in “The Studio”? TM: The students have become very comfortable with the furniture. They particularly enjoy playing in the garden, and I hazard it’s because we bought some of the best wood picnic tables. They use the large piece, dubbed “Mamma Jamma”, the most. I’ve seen it used as a large desk and study area, a stage, and many other things. All of the furniture is used on a daily basis in a number of different ways. The furniture has actually become a very important part of the student’s “Hack Days”. NP: Can you elaborate on what a Hack Day is and how the furniture is used in the process? AH: Hack Days occur three times a semester. The objective of this 24 hour event is for the students to make accelerated progress on the projects they are building on campus, particularly technology and software. It creates a collaborative culture for people who are actively building things. The furniture is an integral part of hack day. We put the studio in a way that its setup is completely unusable; tables are flipped upside down, things are all over the place. Tamika and the team will pile all of the furniture up in the middle of the room with the white boards all around the space. Then, at the count of three, students will race and go after everything and grab what they want. It’s actually quite incredible to watch this completely disheveled space transform into a useable work area in less than a minute. The students can create and convert it into their own space, They take ownership not only of the project they are working on but the space they’re working in. This can only happen because the furniture is modular and on wheels. NP: That sounds exciting! Reminds me of the cornucopia scene in The Hunger Games, without all the violence of course. When we built the furniture we were really hoping that the students would take ownership of the space and utilize it according to their needs. It’s nice to see they are. Are there any other events that come to mind that the furniture was manipulated and used for? TM: Yes! We use it all the time for seminars, announcements, panel discussions, and most often for our weekly guest speakers. We call it Conversations In The Studio, where luminaries in the tech community are invited to come and speak to about entrepreneurship, engineering, art and other topics. The conversations are moderated by the students. We can pull out the stage, and set up chairs, but the rest of the furniture is pushed to the sides to accommodate the crowds. Sometimes the Google people come down to hear the speaker. NP: Have the students or speakers used the furniture in any way that has surprised you? TM: I saw someone actually doing pull-ups one day on Mamma Jamma. I also once saw someone turn one one of the pieces into their own space, complete with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outside, they found the remotes that are hidden inside the deskâ€¦ they really take ownership. The magnetic Cornell Tech sign gets moved everywhere and is played with to take pictures and whatnot. It’s always in a new spot. NP: There is a lot going on here everyday, and it’s not a huge space. It almost seems like this kind of set up was necessary. If the furniture was static and heavy, you would have been very limited as to what you could do with the space. TM: Yes, I think the students would have been very frustrated. It wouldn’t have the same energy. This isn’t our space, it’s their space.
We have to say, we knew the furniture would be utilized, but we were pleasantly surprised how they have incorporated the furniture into their daily lives on campus. It is interesting that physical furniture is so heavily manipulated and depended on in such a technological setting. We are so proud of what we built, and think Rockwell Group really hit the nail on the head with the design.
We leave you with some visuals from the planning, fabrication, and installation phases of the project. Enjoy!
Also, check out Rockwell Group’s Vimeo Page for a time-lapse video of Cornell’s Studio in use.