Tag Archives: education

Space Exploration: United Nations

Every tourist knows about The Met and MoMA, but New York is filled with many museums and exhibition venues off the beaten trail. In this series, we explore some of the city’s less well known cultural spaces and meet the people who organize them.

UN Exhibits

Within the United Nations Headquarters exists not only an incredible collection of permanent art and gifts given to the UN by member states, but also space in the Visitors’ Lobby which features changing exhibitions. These shows are dedicated to spreading awareness of key topics that the UN’s work addresses such as climate change, violence against women, and human rights. Additionally, there is an online gallery featuring information about current and past exhibitions.

We visited with Melissa Budinic whose office is responsible for exhibits open to the public at the UN.

New Project: Where are the UN exhibits located and how can one visit them?

Melissa Budinic: There are three “galleries” managed by the UN Exhibits office. Located in the United Nations Headquarters Visitors’ Lobby (1st Avenue at 46th Street in New York City), two exhibit spaces are located straight ahead of the entrance toward the left and the third space is located along the curved wall leading to the tour check in area.

Admission to the galleries and public areas is free with government-issued photo ID and open Monday-Friday 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 am – 4:30 pm (closed weekends January and February).

NP: Who organizes the shows and what are they about?

MB: Exhibitions are either developed internally at the UN or by outside entities/individuals. The exhibition proposals are reviewed by the Exhibits Committee. Shows must be educational, offer information on key issues relating to the work of the UN, and be endorsed by a relevant office within the UN (for example, an exhibition on child labor might be sponsored by UNICEF). Past exhibitions have revolved around topics such as the international campaign to ban land mines, ecological and economic importance of healthy oceans, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

NP: How often do they change?

MB: Exhibitions are usually on view for one to two months. We may have one, two, or three shows on view simultaneously, in addition to an ongoing exhibition about the history and renovation of the UN Headquarters in another space. We present approximately 15-20 exhibitions each year in the Visitors’ Lobby, many of which are also included on the website for those who can’t make it to New York to see them in person.

NP: Do you have any favorites?

MB: Not really. Each exhibit is about a different topic, so every time I get to learn something different about the kinds of work that the UN does.

NP: Can anyone submit at proposal for a show?

MB: Certainly, as long as they follow the guidelines.  The UN doesn’t present art and solo exhibitions. The shows must cover several countries. For details, please send an email to exhibitscommittee@un.org

NP: What’s up next?

MB: In January, we’ll be presenting an exhibition called State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. The exhibition is organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and coincides with International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. The exhibition is on view starting January 12, 2017.

NP: Thank you for sharing your time!

To learn about more interesting things to see and do while visiting the United Nations (like eating in the delegates dining room, taking a guided tour, and getting a special UN passport stamp), check out the UN website.

UN Exhibits entrance text

The exhibition Palestinian Embroidery: Threads of Continuity, Identity and Empowerment included stunning examples of elaborate embroidery by Palestinian women from the 19th through 21st centuries, photography, dolls, and dresses by contemporary Palestinian fashion designers.

Palestinian Embroidery

Exhibition image detail

UN Exhibits: Palestinian Embroidery 1

Intricate textiles

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Contemporary fashion faces a row of portraits of the UN Secretaries General in rug form donated by member state Iran.

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Installation view of Millennium Villages Project (MVP) – A photographic essay on sustainable development. This exhibition featured photographs of four projects implemented by the Millennium Villages in Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal. Led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Millennium Villages Project contributed to eliminating extreme poverty in ten African countries over ten years (2005-2015).

Gift from Thailand

A gift by member state Thailand to the United Nations, one of many remarkable pieces of the collection on view at the UN Headquarters.

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My Very Eccentric Mom Joyfully Sells Unique Ninjas at PS163Q

In 2013, artist Nanna Debois Buhl received a commission through the Public Art for Public Schools program to create a work of art for a new addition to a high school in Flushing, Queens. Nanna and her consultant, Nathalie Pozzi, reached out to New Project for assistance with the fabrication of the sculptural installation.

After visiting the school, Nanna created a proposal for a model of our solar system combined with a collection of mnemonic phrases written by students from the school. Both components were to be made out of steel with a bright, red, glossy, powder coated finish.

New Project worked with the artist, her consultant, the NYC School Construction Authority, engineers, and the general contractors to ensure the work would be fabricated and installed as the artist envisioned as the school addition was being built.

We spoke to Nanna about The Planets, her new installation at PS 163Q in Flushing, NY.

NP: How did this project come about? When did it start?

NDB: The project began in spring of 2013, when I was invited to participate in a competition for a public commission for PS163Q initiated by the NYC Department of Education, NYC School Construction Authority, and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program.

I made a site visit to get an understanding of the school, its profile, and its architecture. My proposal was an installation for the school’s lobby consisting of a model of the solar system and a collection of phrases, written by students from the school, for remembering the order of the planets in the solar system (planetary mnemonics).

Over the last three years, the work has been developed in collaboration with New Project (fabrication), Nathalie Pozzi (artist’s consultant) and Anni’s (graphic design).

Have you done other public commissions or works in schools?

Yes, Journey to the End of the Night (2010) is a public commission I have made for a high school in Denmark. It covers the four walls of the school’s canteen. Cut out on wooden wall panels, the motif is a map of the position of the stars over the high school on the opening day in 2010. The star formations are accompanied with titles, which are places – from literature, film, music, art, philosophy, and science; works that the students may encounter during their time at the school.

My public commission Atlas of Anatomy (2013) is created for an educational institution in Denmark that houses nursing, teaching, physiotherapy, social education, and social work programs. Silkscreened on 3,000 square feet of inner glass walls, the work consists of 15 photographs of body parts of people in different ages and a cut-up text composed of 133 medical, philosophical, and literary quotes about the body. Many of the quotes were culled from the library of the institution whose educational programs, to a large degree, deal with various aspects of the human body. I think of the commission as an abstract interpretation of the historical anatomical reference book, a journey through a collective body composed of many bodies and voices.

You mentioned that these mnemonic texts (acronyms which take the initial letter of each list item to create a memorable phrase) were created by the students. How did you get them to participate?

I was in dialog with the (now former) principal who gathered a group of students who were interested in participating. I gave them the guidelines for constructing the sentences which they then wrote.

Were you surprised by the responses you received? Do you have any favorites?

It was so exciting receiving the texts from the students. I love the fact that they have used language that I would never have come up with: Nutella Sandwiches and Ninjas, and names such as Mei and Ming – representative of the demographics of the school, which has many Mandarin speaking students.

What other surprises did you encounter in the design process?

The typographic aspect of the work was developed in collaboration with Denmark-based graphic designer Anni’s. We decided to work with the format of the writing exercise book and to think of the two walls where the texts are placed as pages in an open book. The letters of the mnemonics were placed on lines alluding to the exercise book format (and making the installation process more simple). At the end of the last text block there are some empty lines – a built in invitation to continue constructing new sentences. The work combines a scientific model (the solar system) and the imaginative universes of the children (the texts). I think of the model as a motor in a machine that can continue producing texts. And I see the students’ texts as a kind of conceptual poetry (constraint-based writing).

The work invites students to interact with it, to come up with their own mnemonics. Does all of your work entail collaboration or a back and forth of sorts?

Conversations (that be with experts in a given field, an art work, or, as here, a group of students) are always an important part of my working process. In the three public commissions I have made for educational institutions, I have invited people to contribute with textual material: For Atlas of Anatomy I made a “call for quotes” and for Journey to the End of the Night a lot of people helped me gather titles. I think of these works as cacophonic and therefore I also like the working process to have a collective aspect.

A big difference between an art work in a white cube setting and in a public commission is that the audience of the latter lives with the work for a long period of time. I, therefore, like to include an element in the public commissions that can unfold or be discovered over time (such as The Planets built in invitation to make up new sentences).

What was the most interesting aspect of working on this project?

Involving the students and receiving their texts. Developing a work for this specific context taking the educational setting and the audience (students and teachers) into account. And seeing the work transform from a 3D model to an actual physical work. After 3 years of preparation and fabrication it was stunning to enter the school lobby last week and see the work installed, finally.

What’s next?

My next project, I Imagined That Things Were Speaking, is a solo show at MSU Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb opening in October 2016. It will consist of a show inside the museum and a large projection on the façade of the museum building. All the exhibited works are photographic “readings” of various cityscapes through objects, plants, animals, and architectural components. The exhibition will thus both address a bypassing audience in the street and a museum audience. I am currently thinking a lot about composing the exhibition, so that it can speak to these different viewers with their different attention spans.

To see more of Nanna’s work, visit her website.

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Mnemonic text cut by our CNC machine

Steel planets orbiting in the shop
The planets in the shop before they begin their orbit

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The arms are inspected after welding

Beautiful powder coating!
Planets post powder coating

Artist Nanna Debois Buhl watches as the work is installed
Artist Nanna Debois Buhl watches as the work is installed

Installation in process
In the beginning, there was only Neptune

Lobby view
View of The Planets from the lobby entrance

 

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New Project birdhouse

MAKE YOUR OWN BIRDHOUSE

New Project gives back to the community and this child-friendly project was just one example. Putting our CNC machine to good use, we created these snap-together birdhouses for a class project to help kids learn sequencing tasks. New Project designed the birdhouses using Rhino and cut the pieces out of a single sheet of MDO plywood using our CNC machine. We then bagged together easy-to-assemble kits for the 1st grade class at PS-10 in Brooklyn. New Project Co-Founder and CEO Dennis Potami visited the class to explain and lead the project. Each child assembled the pieces without nails or glue and then took home the birdhouse they proudly made in class. We really enjoyed developing this fun project that hopefully inspired a new generation of thinkers and builders!

New Project birdhouse
Tim designs the birdhouse in Rhino

New Project birdhouse
The birdhouse kits and assembled sample

New Project birdhouse
Dennis explains the project to the first grade class

New Project birdhouse
Dennis demonstrates the birdhouse assembly

Version 2

The finished product and the happy builders

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Cornell Tech

Cornell Tech Custom Furniture

Modular Custom Furniture for Cornell Tech- “It’s Not Our Space, It’s Theirs”


 

Cornell Tech's Studio inside Google's Chelsea building

Cornell Tech’s Studio inside Google’s Chelsea building

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 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 desk… 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!

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Cornell Tech is temporarily housed on the 3rd floor of Google’s building located in Chelsea. This beautiful neon sign greets you in the lobby. Google created its moniker using letterforms from actual old neon signs found around New York City. The space is being generously donated by Google until 2017.

 

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Before we could begin building, we had to make sure it would all fit with enough space to move around. We didn’t want a square peg-round hole situation. We used tape on the floor and built to-scale cardboard frames to verify the width, depth and height of each module.

 

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We started out by welding the frames together in our shop, then began fitting the various wooden surfaces and walls inside. Because all of the furniture was to be raised on wheels, it was important that all of the pieces were elevated enough as to not touch the floor.

 

Frank installing some panels into “Mamma Jamma”, the largest unit in the set.

 

 

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In addition to the free-standing modules, we also fabricated a few extra components including this bench/stage/table/bed… the list goes on.

 

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Here’s the bench/stage getting a final smooth coat of Cornell Red.

 

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The magnetic Cornell Tech sign

 

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Shop drawing for the Roosevelt Island table.

 

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Willen built the Roosevelt Island table out of 1/2″ numerous layers of furniture-grade birch plywood. Each layer was cut using the CNC to replicate the southern tip of the Island, which will be the school’s permanent home come 2017.

 

The desk was built as a hollow construction so that it would fit over and extend the work surface of an existing desk. Each layer was strategically seamed so as to limit the amount of material needed.

 

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Here’s the desk with the top layer attached. 

 

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The finished product ready for installation.

 

Installation day was a busy affair and we had the majority of our team on site. Did we mention all the units had to breakdown into elements that would fit through some fairly small doorways and turn down some narrow hallways, then reassembled on site?

 

Willen and the rolling countertop.

 

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Lee adjusting the counter weight to the sliding clear dry-erase board that can be positioned in front of two monitors. 

 

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The Cornell Tech sign is magnetic and can attach to any of the pieces. Here is Michael attaching the finishing touches.

 

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Our beautiful Roosevelt Island reception desk designed by Rockwell Group.

 

Cornell In Use

The furniture in use in The Studio.

 

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‘Conversations In The Studio’ lecture series. Photo courtesy of Cornell Tech’s Facebook Page.

 

Also, check out Rockwell Group’s Vimeo Page for a time-lapse video of Cornell’s Studio in use.

Think and Build.

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