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Flatiron Partnership and Van Alen Institute Announce Winning Holiday Installation Design: Flatiron Reflection

Last week at Celebrate Flatiron Partnerships, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute announced Future Expansion’s Flatiron Reflection as the winner of the fourth annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition. The holiday competition called for proposals from New York design firms for a temporary installation in the heart of the Flatiron District. Flatiron Reflection will be the centerpiece of the Partnership’s annual holiday program and a highly visible landmark in the district.

Flatiron Reflection is a publicly spirited space that encourages new experiences of the city, new modes of dwelling in the plaza, and new views of its context. A bundle of shimmering tubes creates a fragmented column at the scale of the public plaza. The fluted perimeter offers niches that can be occupied, while a panoramic central space opens out like a stage into the plaza. The conical interior form cuts out the visual noise of the city to isolate the image of the Flatiron Building and its neighbors on the skyline.

The project is designed to be experienced both up-close and from a distance. As you walk around it, the play of light, shadow, and reflection changes its appearance against the background of buildings and trees. From a distance, the folds create soft reflections that become clearer as you approach; Indistinguishable shapes sharpen into hazy impressions of familiar landmarks.

“We’re excited to be working with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute to temporarily transform this spectacular site,” said Deirdre and Nicholas McDermott, principals of Future Expansion. “The installation is designed for three scales of experience: the deeply creased exterior makes spaces for individuals; the interior room offers an intimate panorama for small groups; and the north-facing wedge presents a platform toward the plaza. We hope that the installation opens new possibilities for interaction and experiences while reinforcing the pure public essence of the site.”

The installation will remain on view to the public on the Flatiron North Public Plaza at Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street through the holidays as part of the Partnership’s “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” programming. Now in its sixth year, "23 Days of Flatiron Cheer" is made possible by generous donors Meringoff Properties (Presenting Sponsor), 212 Fifth Avenue and Sony Square NYC (Supporting Sponsors), and Porcelanosa (Contributing Sponsor).

The installation is permitted through NYC DOT Art and is open to the public daily, weather permitting, through January 1.

The closed-call competition began in June 2017, when the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute—a non-profit that organizes design competitions, public programs, and research to make cities better places—invited ten design and architecture firms to submit proposals. Invited firms were: BAS/Annie Barrett; Future Expansion; Hive Public Space; Khamsi, Marman and Borins; Kyle May, Architect; McEwen Studio; Practice; Schaum/Shieh; The Principals; and, Thread Collective. Eight submitted proposals.

A jury with expertise across the worlds of design and public art, including representatives from the Flatiron Partnership and Van Alen Institute’s board of trustees, reviewed the proposals.

“These installations have become a neighborhood tradition enjoyed by those who live, work, or visit Flatiron during the holiday season, and take part in our annual ’23 Days of Flatiron Cheer’ celebration,” said Jennifer Brown, Executive Director of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership. Flatiron Reflection most certainly will become a destination for people who already are in love with Flatiron—or are visiting our neighborhood for the first time. We are proud to partner with Van Alen Institute and Future Expansion, and invite all New Yorkers – and your holiday guests – to visit Flatiron this season!”

“This installation is the latest of four rewarding years of collaboration between Van Alen Institute and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership on the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition,” said David van der Leer, Executive Director of Van Alen Institute. “The initiative has become a valuable platform for launching new practices, a visible celebration of inventive, temporary designs that enliven public space during a chillier season, and an opportunity to understand how these spaces impact our minds and bodies.”

“It’s hard to believe that this is the fourth year that DOT Art has partnered with the Flatiron Partnership to activate the Flatiron plazas with specially commissioned holiday installations, said NYC DOT Assistant Commissioner of Design + Art + Wayfinding Wendy Feuer. “The glistening materials and choir-like sculptural formation will prompt passersby to engage with the art, while serving as a backdrop for festive programming throughout the holiday season.”

Download the full press release here.

To view each proposal, click here.


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