The Partnership and Van Alen Institute today unveiled the winner of the eighth annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition: Interwoven, an interactive installation by design firm Atelier Cho Thompson. Interwoven will be on view November 22, 2021–January 2, 2022 in the Flatiron North Public Plaza on Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street, creating a highly visible landmark in the heart of Manhattan throughout the holidays.
Since 2014, this annual competition has brought people together in public space through innovative design installations. Now, at the end of another year marked by isolation, the Flatiron Partnership and Van Alen Institute seek to strengthen community bonds with Interwoven. Inspired by New York’s tapestry of cultures and people, Interwoven celebrates the joys of reconnecting in public space. Its interactive archways, are activated by color-coded sensors; when two or more people pass through sensors of the same color, Interwoven responds with corresponding lights and musical compositions by local artists inspired by the installation’s themes.
The installation’s interactive story wall, made of backlit papers hung on a grid, invites visitors to share responses to the prompt: “I dream of a world where together we can…” The resulting narratives will become a patchwork of voices documenting this challenging yet hopeful moment. The prompt was selected by Youth Fellows from The People’s Bus NYC, a community-led, intergenerational initiative focused on engaging people in NYC’s civic life through beauty and joy.
“One of our key tenets as a firm is that we can build community around design,” said Ming Thompson and Christina Cho Yoo, Co-Founders of Atelier Cho Thompson. “Interwoven highlights our fundamental desires to connect with each other through shared experiences and to celebrate our differences. Interwoven offers a platform for stories and dreams of our future.”
“Located at one of New York City’s most iconic intersections, the Flatiron North Plaza is the perfect setting for Interwoven, an installation that provides a powerful, yet playful reminder that human interaction is essential,” said James Mettham, Executive Director of the Partnership. “As we welcome New Yorkers and visitors to explore Interwoven this holiday season, we are proud to once again collaborate with Van Alen Institute on our tradition of presenting thought-provoking public art in Flatiron.”
“Interwoven‘s playful design unites us through joy,” said Deborah Marton, Executive Director of Van Alen Institute. “As part of Van Alen’s Public Realm R&D initiative — which celebrates the serendipity of connection and power of shared stories — we ’re honored to collaborate again with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership to test new ways to bring people together in one of NYC’s most iconic public spaces.”
Inspired by the dynamic geometry of intersections that form the Flatiron Building, Interwoven’s archways, hammock, and benches are constructed with a steel framing, netting, resin panels, and high-density cork. As a firm committed to sustainable design, Atelier Cho Thompson carefully selected Interwoven’s materials including its rapidly-renewable cork and steel, a material made of mostly recycled content.
The project team includes in-kind sponsors MHA Engineering, Lam Partners, Indistinguishable from Magic, Hunter Douglas and 3form, LLI Architectural Lighting, EcoSupply, Fusion Optix, and Cadwell Signs. Grant funding was made possible by Stand with Asian Americans / Asian Pacific Fund and an anonymous donor. Fabrication and site installation will be completed by Brooklyn-based Smart Department Fabrication, Inc. After debuting Interwoven in on the Flatiron North Public Plaza, the firm will partner with community organizations in New Haven, CT to bring the installation to a local public park.
Since its inception, the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Installation Competition has been a platform for the Partnership and Van Alen Institute to deepen their connections with emerging designers, bring people together, and support inventive visions for an iconic urban plaza.
Atelier Cho Thompson was selected by the Partnership and Van Alen Institute from a shortlist of three firms, each recommended by design experts in Van Alen’s network. The other shortlisted firms were AD-WO and Isometric Studio.
Nominations for the shortlisted firms were provided by Nina Cooke John, Founder and Principal of Studio Cooke John; Justin Garrett Moore, Program Officer, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Mark Gardner, Principal, Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects; and Ashley Mendelsohn, Architecture Curator and Educator.
The installation is presented in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation’s Temporary Art Program and will be open to the public daily, weather permitting. The Partnership is encouraging visitors to use #InterwovenFlatiron on Twitter and Instagram to share images of the installation.