Roosevelt Island Arts Center

Proposal for ENYA Ideas Competition

The south point has been drawn and re-drawn, the land built and re-built, demolished, buried and extended. We embrace this cult of (UN)natural deposition and accretion and have proposed a new geology for the south point - a new ground. The strata of this ground, which begins south of the Coler-Goldwater Hospital complex, contain the programs of the Art Center as well as a large park, a school/community outreach center and a residential component.

Just below the hospital the park begins as a series of strips that divide a new housing program. The constantly ascending ground passes through and negotiates the housing, peeling away in places to reveal the administrative component of the Art Center below. Steadily rising over the expanse of residential blocks, the ground joins with the raised datum of the park south of the small pox hospital.

This elevated datum at the south point is a public park dotted with elements of the Art Center program below. Visitors to the park take in an unobstructed panoramic view of the city as they walk among the artist's workshops that emerge from the elevated datum.  The park consists of a constantly shifting ground that negotiates the assorted programs of the Art Center. Departing from the trajectory of the boardwalk that lines the west side of the island, the project's major artery branches off and becomes an interior thoroughfare that houses the gallery and public exhibition spaces.

The artist's individual studios are also situated below the park level and look out towards the water, (vertebrates) sharing a wall with the central public spine. These massive concrete walls, which define the public experience of exhibition on one side and the more private activity of art production on the other, also serve as the super structure for the elevated ground plane above. Dispersed throughout the park and connected to both the gallery and the studio spaces are the artist's workshops. The workshops, photo, film/video, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, are scattered throughout the site and negotiate between the surface of the public space of the park to the art center buried within.

The ever shifting ground of the South Point has suggested an interesting relationship between the topographic and the cult of the natural that is so often attached to an island. This history of topographical augmentation, extraction and addition coupled with a site of preservation naturally has led to a need for a greater communal space of leisure and recreation for the island.