BMW Guggenheim Lab to Launch in New York City

BMW Guggenheim Lab to Launch in New York City

BMW Guggenheim Lab will launch in New York City from August 3 to October 16. Following the New York installation, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will travel to Berlin in spring/summer 2012, and to a city in Asia to be announced later this year. Conceived as an urban think tank and mobile laboratory, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will explore issues confronting contemporary cities and provide a public place and online forum for sharing ideas and practical solutions. The BMW Guggenheim Lab and all of its programming will be free to the public. The new website and online communities will create and extend the opportunity to participate in this multidisciplinary urban experiment worldwide.

Over the six-year migration of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, there will be three different themes and three distinct mobile structures, each designed by a different architect and each traveling to three cities around the world. The inaugural BMW Guggenheim Lab will be located on the border between Manhattan's Lower East Side and East Village, at 33 East First Street (between First and Second Avenues), on a site owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Designed by Atelier Bow-Wow, the mobile structure, a compact temporary facility of approximately 2,500 square feet, will easy fit into densely built neighborhoods and be transported from city to city.

The first cycle will conclude with a special exhibition presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2013, which will explore the ideas and solutions that were addressed at the BMW Guggenheim Lab's different venues. The two remaining two-year cycles will be announced at a later date.

The theme for the first three-city cycle is Confronting Comfort, an exploration of how urban environments can be made more responsive to people's needs, how a balance can be found between modern notions of individual versus collective comfort, and the urgent need for environmental and social responsibility.

An international Advisory Committee has nominated the New York BMW Guggenheim Lab Team (BGL Team), an innovative group of emerging talents in their fields who will create the diverse range of programming that will be presented in New York.

The BMW Guggenheim Lab is curated by David van der Leer, Assistant Curator, Architecture and Urban Studies, and Maria Nicanor, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

"We are delighted to be launching the BMW Guggenheim Lab in New York City, followed by Berlin, two progressive urban centers of culture and creativity, and could not be more pleased with the exceptional talent that the members of the BMW Guggenheim Lab Advisory Committee and Lab Team bring to this project," stated Richard Armstrong. "This pioneering effort to identify new ideas, designs, and strategies that address the serious challenges faced by urban cultures today furthers the Guggenheim's deep commitment to education, research, and design innovation. It is a pleasure to be collaborating with BMW, and we look forward to continuing to work together as the BMW Guggenheim Lab continues to evolve and unfold."

"Never before has our company been involved in a collaboration of this scale with a cultural institution," stated Frank-Peter Arndt, member of the Board of Management, BMW AG. "I could not think of a greater project than the BMW Guggenheim Lab to coincide with the 40th anniversary of our international cultural engagement. Richard Armstrong has rightly called our joint activity an 'adventure.' At BMW, we are fond of adventures. With the esteemed Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation at our side, we are eager to engage together in a multidisciplinary worldwide dialogue to confront today's issues, from questions of sustainability and architecture to those of engineering and science."

The Advisory Committee for the first cycle of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, an international group of experts from various disciplines, includes Daniel Barenboim (Conductor and Pianist, Argentina), Elizabeth Diller (Designer, USA), Nicholas Humphrey (Theoretical Psychologist, UK), Muchadeyi Ashton Masunda (Mayor of Harare, Zimbabwe), Enrique Penalosa (Former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia), Juliet Schor (Economist and Professor of Sociology, USA), Rirkrit Tiravanija (Artist, Thailand), and Wang Shi (Entrepreneur, China). The Advisory Committee is charged with nominating candidates for the BGL Team for each of the three cities of the first cycle, as well as providing their own ideas relating to the theme and consulting with members of the BGL Team.

The New York BGL Team is comprised of Omar Freilla, a Bronx, New York-based environmental justice activist, cooperative developer, and founder and coordinator of Green Worker Cooperatives; Canadian journalist and urban experimentalist Charles Montgomery, an advocate for sustainability and well-being; Nigerian microbiologist and inventor and 2010 TEDGlobal Fellow Olatunbosun Obayomi; and architects and urbanists Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman of the Rotterdam-based architecture studio ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles]


The graphic identity of the BMW Guggenheim Lab includes an interactive logo created by graphic designers Sulki & Min, from Seoul, South Korea, was unveiled today. Unlike traditional logos, Sulki & Min's design will grow and change through audience interaction on BMW Guggenheim Lab website over the course of the its first two-year cycle. Reflecting the role of the BMW Guggenheim Lab as a space for the exchange of ideas, the logo will become the metaphorical and virtual representation of worldwide interaction with the theme of Confronting Comfort and the larger discourse about cities and urban life. The online dialogue will be extended through dedicated BMW Guggenheim Lab social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and FourSquare.

New York BMW Guggenheim Lab
The inaugural BMW Guggenheim Lab, located at 33 East First Street (between First and Second Avenues), will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 9 pm, Fridays, 1 to 10 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays, 10 am to 10 pm.

The BGL Team will design public programs, experiments, and an installation exploring how interventions and innovations that decentralize, decelerate, localize, and democratize New Yorkers can reinvent the urban experience, creating a more adaptable and sustainable version of comfort. The BMW Guggenheim Lab is conceived to spark visitor curiosity and interaction, and audiences will be encouraged to participate and contribute to the answers, ideas, and stories generated inside. Programming will include unconventional tours exploring the urban fabric, hands-on experiments and how-to workshops, film screenings, and community-based discussions.

Each BGL Team member will also work closely with collaborators such as AgeLab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Environmental Psychology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY); Latin Lab, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University; Poiesis Fellowship, Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University; and THNK, the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership. These local and international collaborators will share their expertise and contribute their knowledge to enrich the ideas and proposals of the BGL Team.

The Architecture
With a structural skeleton built of carbon fiber, the lightweight and compact BMW Guggenheim Lab has been designed by Atelier Bow-Wow as a "traveling toolbox." The lower half of the structure, a present-day version of the Mediterranean loggia, will be left open at most times. Its configuration will change periodically throughout the run of the BMW Guggenheim Lab to meet the needs of particular programs developed by the BGL Team. The cross-pollination and user interaction that will be an integral part of the BMW Guggenheim Lab's programs find their counterpart in the upper part of the structure, which houses a flexible rigging system and is wrapped in a semitransparent mesh. Through this external skin, visitors will be able to catch glimpses of the extensive apparatus of tools that will be lowered or raised from the fully enclosed toolbox canopy according to the BMW Guggenheim Lab's manifold programming needs. The ground space can shift from a formal lecture setting with a stage, to the scene for celebratory gatherings or for workshops with tables for hands-on experiments.

A series of smaller wooden structures to be placed in close proximity to the main BMW Guggenheim Lab structure will provide space for restrooms and a cafe. Whereas the main structure is forward-looking in its materiality and highly urban in its programmatic approach, the design of the restrooms and cafe references timeless timber construction that has been used in many settings, both rural and urban. Together, the wooden structures and the main BMW Guggenheim Lab form a temporary twenty-first-century ensemble that in each city will frame a particular urban void. After the BMW Guggenheim Lab departs for Berlin, the improvements made to the currently vacant lot in New York City will remain, allowing a formerly unusable city space to become an accessible public park.

Atelier Bow-Wow

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