New Museum’s Festival of Ideas for the New City Has Worms, Farms and Koolhaas

03/31/2011 2:47 PM |

Bowerys stacked boxes do the worm.
  • Bowery’s stacked boxes do the worm.

At a press event this morning the New Museum and a team of ten core partner organizations including the Center for Architecture, Storefront for Art and Architecture, and Drawing Center announced preliminary details of their inaugural Festival of Ideas for the New City (May 4-8), including lectures and workshops on progressive urbanism and architecture, performances, exhibitions and a huge street fair on Bowery (between Houston and Spring), Stanton, Rivington and Sarah Roosevelt Park on the 7th that, as the Bowery Poetry Club’s Bob Holman put it, “is not a street fest for tube socks and sandwiches.” There will be tubes of another sort, though.

The five-day festival will begin with panels, workshops and lectures at the Cooper Union from the 4th to the 7th, including a keynote address by Rem Koolhaas—whose contribution to the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale will be remounted at the New Museum during the festival.

Major outdoor projects include the return of Raumlabor Berlin’s Spacebuster inflatable project space, a series of mural projects by famous artists (including Lawrence Weiner) installed on stores’ metal shutters all along Bowery, 20 local food vendors, the Truck Farm, and completely re-imagined temporary tents. As the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s director Eva Franch Gilabert explained, after 30 groups submitted proposals in response to an open call for innovative re-imaginations of the conventional street fair tent, “The Worms” prototype (rendered at top) by studios Family and PlayLab was selected for the Festival of Ideas for the New City—after which the modular, bright pink tunnel-like tents will be donated to the city.

Aside from these specifics, the thrust of the festival is to harness the incredible concentration of creativity and ingenuity in Downtown Manhattan to think about and act upon ideas for improving this city and urbanism as an everyday and professional practice with particular regard to four essential, overlapping aspects of the urban system: the heterogeneous city, the networked city, the reconfigured city and the sustainable city. In other words, there will be lots of brain candy for architecture, design and urbanism nerds, and plenty of fun art, parties and performances for everyone throughout the first week of May.