Project Team: Brittany Drapac
Columbia University GSAPP: Core Studio I / Alice Chun
Date: Sept. 2008-Dec. 2008
Site: Canal Street and West Side Highway, New York, NY
Program: Climatology research center
Size: 30,000 square feet
Starting at the human scale, I designed a live/work space for a climatologist collecting air quality data through the enclosure’s densely-knit material. Inspired by a material known as horsehair, a structural netting used in fashion design, I began studying its makeup, elasticity and fray. This monitoring cell can be virtually undetectable in any given environment, its materiality becoming a pixilated reflection of the surroundings-- a sort of expandable chameleon that can collect climate data from its fibers. Transitioning the cell from a human scale to urban scale, the resulting Air Lab incorporates multiple cells into the thickness of its walls. Made of a pleated felt, the walls filter pollutants extracted directly from the vents of the Holland Tunnel before they enter the atmosphere. The filtered air is then released through clean air chimneys. A billboard to the West Side Highway, the walls become a constantly changing gradient of accumulated and cleansed pollutants. At night, embedded LEDs visually display daily pollutant levels.