OPEN: new designs for public space to appear at the National Building Museum

This new exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC will explore contemporary and future directions in the design of public space, proposing that new spaces can be the generators of urban revitalization. Organized by the Van Alen Institute, the exhibition will present innovative recent projects from around the world, all of which address aspects of the public realm. The exhibition will also explore the role of public space in an age of heightened security and increased electronic interaction. The exhibition will be on view from January 15-May 15.

The contemporary spaces represented in this exhibition include architecture, landscape, and urban design projects by renowned design leaders including Will Alsop, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, Craig Dykers, Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid, Walter Hood, Norman Foster, and Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi. More than 300 images, digital animations and videos, and models (many commissioned for this exhibition) illustrate a range of projects in a variety of settings. Featured projects include memorials and new types of urban plazas and parks in cities as diverse as Macon, Georgia, Melbourne, Australia, and Johannesburg, South Africa.

The projects in OPEN will be organized into five themes. The Plaza Unbound, Information in Place, Opening the City, Active Memory, and New Meeting Grounds will explain how public space is evolving according to the specific needs of today’s cities across the United States and around the world. One additional section, In the News, will focus on “Parks to Watch” in New York City, “North American Competitions,” and “Temporary Interventions in Public Space.” The National Building Museum’s presentation of OPEN will include an additional examination of current and upcoming public space projects in the Washington area, many of which reflect an effort to wrestle with the dilemma of security in a city intended to represent democratic ideals of openness and accessibility.

OPEN: new designs for public space was organized by the Van Alen Institute by Exhibition Director Raymond Gastil and Exhibition Curator Zoe Ryan, and was first on view at the Van Alen Institute in New York City from June through October of 2003. The exhibition also draws upon the expertise of leaders in art, architecture, graphic and new media design, landscape, planning, community development, and policy who convened at the Van Alen Institute for a series of Public Space roundtables that informed the exhibition.

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