An art space and sculpture garden in Lower Manhattan
Funded by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
New York, New York
Tobias Armborst (Principal), Daniel D’Oca (Principal), Miguel Diaz, K.C. Howe, Ben Lindner David Marini, Micaela Roberts, Georgeen Theodore (Principal)
Barrett Robinson, New York Restoration Project
Lent Space is a privately-owned 0.5 acre development site that is temporarily being made open to the public. Occupying an entire city block, LentSpace acts as a platform for rotating exhibitions of contemporary art complemented by various public programs.
As a temporary project with a small construction budget, LentSpace was conceived as an “in the meantime” activity to animate a vacant site awaiting renewal, thus offering a new model for land use citywide.
The infrastructure and master plan of LentSpace, which was commissioned by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and designed by Interboro, includes a tree nursery and an operable fence. The tree nursery provides foliage and shade for the site while also incubating street trees to be distributed at a later time throughout the surrounding blocks. In response to the client’s requirement of enclosing the space with a seven foot fence, Interboro’s design includes a moveable sculptural fence facing the adjacent Duarte Square that can enclose or open the site to different degrees, creating an array of social spaces. Looking more like a piece of furniture than a security measure, the fence also serves as a public amenity in the form of benches and wall panels for exhibitions on the edge of LentSpace. Through these procedures and interfaces, the fence itself becomes public and creates an object that can be interpreted, used, and appropriated in many different ways, including as a surface for the display of art. Different time-spaces and different constituents border the site: Varick Street with its droves office workers, 6th Avenue with a number of everyday uses occupying the narrow parcels, and Canal Street with both the daily congestion of commuters entering the Holland Tunnel and the “sidewalk mall” of vendors selling fake handbags and t-shirts. Thus, the distinct edges of LentSpace become activated differently depending on the time of day or week.
A view of Lent Space in Manhattan from above.
View of the planting zone at Lent Space, with Tobias Putrih’s chainlink sculpture threaded between the planters.
Operable Fences serving as benches.
Site plan of LentSpace, showing plantings in the Nursery on the west side and the operable fence on the east side facing Duarte Square. Lines across the site show potential strategic shortcuts for pedestrians.
Chainlink sculpture by Tobias Putrih in planting zone of Lent Space
Moveable planters containing trees flowering shrubs at Lent Space.
Operable fences serving as benches at Lent Space.
The fence elements double as exhibit panels and as benches. They are constructed of marine grade plywood on a steel frame, referencing both furniture and construction fencing. The users will be able to rotate the fence-benches and create a whole lexicon of different seating arrangements and social spaces.
An operable fence is located on the site’s eastern edge, facing Duarte Square. The fence elements can be moved and adjusted by their users. Rather than enclosing the site, this fence becomes the center of activity. At night the fence is entirely closed.
On an everyday basis some of the fence elements are opened to allow for shortcuts across the site.
During an event the entire fence can be opened, blurring the boundary between inside and outside, sculpture park, and Duarte Square.
View of the Park/Nursery from Varick Street
Site plan of the tree nursery park at Lent Space, 2009.
A Park/Nursery occupies the western half of the site, providing some much needed shade for the large numbers of office workers along Varick Street. Given the temporary nature of the project, we developed the Park as a series of moveable planters containing both older trees for shade, flowering shrubs for seasonal interest and the Nursery for street trees.
Site plan of the tree nursery park at Lent Space, 2011.