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Thread: Pier 54 (AKA Pier 55) - Hudson River Park

  1. #16

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    February 27, 2005

    MEATPACKING DISTRICT

    Wrenches in Hand, Critics in Hard Hats Take the Measure of Their Creation

    By JOHN FREEMAN GILL


    Putting final touches on the Nomadic Museum. "I guess it's some sort of minimalism," a dock builder said.

    s West Side Highway rubberneckers are well aware, the Nomadic Museum nearing completion on Pier 54 at West 13th Street is no ordinary exhibition space. Designed by the architect Shigeru Ban as a traveling home for "Ashes and Snow," an exhibition of photographs and a film by the artist Gregory Colbert, the museum is a fanciful 45,000-square-foot structure built of shipping containers, giant paper tubes and a fabric-like roof.

    When the show opens on Saturday, critics will have their say. But in recent months Pier 54 has been nothing more than a vast and bizarre construction site, and the only museumgoers have been workers in canvas overalls who have been taking delivery of outsize recycled materials from river barges and assembling them in an odd and painstaking fashion.

    Which invites the question: What do these workers make of what is probably the most peculiar structure most of them have ever worked on?

    "From what I'm told, it's art," said a cherry-picker operator named Mike Ferry, an expressive smirk spreading across his face as he sat in the cab of his big machine on a recent afternoon.

    William Dandorf, a dock builder, added with a shrug: "It's all for art. Somebody wants to look at art."

    As a groaning red crane hoisted ashore a 34-foot column resembling a gargantuan toilet-paper tube, a dock builder named Erik Romero squinted in thought. "I guess it's some sort of minimalism," he said finally. "It didn't take much to build a huge structure. I mean, it took a lot, but. ..."

    Like many of the laborers who had been working seven-day weeks since construction of the museum began in December, Jeff Blake was finally starting to take pleasure in looking at the strange building, whose difficult construction had made the workers virtual strangers to their families. "The more and more you bring it together," he said, "it looks nice."

    Perhaps because the project has been all-consuming for so long, some workers are looking forward to showing their families what has been occupying them.

    Among them was Mr. Ferry, the cherry-picker operator. "When it opens up," he said as he delicately maneuvered three co-workers toward the pinnacle of a column, "I will bring my wife, because it's part of her life, too, because of me not being home. I'd like her to see it."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  2. #17

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    Creatures comfortable
    The Nomadic Museum rolls into town and hosts a photo exhibit focusing on humans and animals living in harmony

    BY JUSTIN DAVIDSON AND ARIELLA BUDICK
    STAFF WRITERS

    March 6, 2005

    Just as "The Gates" bow out, another temporary art extravaganza alights in New York City, softening winter with a sepia glow. "Ashes and Snow" will remain through the spring in an unheated shed jutting into the Hudson River, and it may linger longer in the memory than the orange shower curtains that lately festooned Central Park.

    The new project is both humbler and more exalted. In a cathedral built of steel shipping containers and cardboard tubes, explorer and photographer Gregory Colbert has hung his poster-size photos of people nuzzling elephants, cavorting with whales, embracing cheetahs and dancing with hawks. Instead of predators, we become partners: The human shall lie down with the beast.

    Colbert has made 33 expeditions over 13 years to such distant habitats as Burma, Tonga and the Azores, and not just to produce souvenirs of exotic places. The photos he came back with have the clarity and luminescence of medieval stained glass, and like Gothic windows, they function as visual sermons. The Canadian native urges his fellow humans to recapture a mystical intimacy with the beautiful beasts that share the planet.

    A lifelong outsider to the club of dealers and curators who dispense art-world prestige, Colbert has made a quiet living selling his photographs for well more than $100,000, he claims, adding, "I bleed my collectors with glee."

    It's largely his money behind the Bianimale Foundation, which is paying for the $5-million Nomadic Museum on Pier 54. The exhibit, along with the building that houses it, will be packed up and shipped to Los Angeles in early June. Next year, the whole caravan moves on to Beijing.



    Recycling of sorts

    But the Nomadic Museum, designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, is reproducible rather than truly portable. In Los Angeles, the foundation will rent a new batch of containers, while the ones disassembled from the disused West Village pier will return to their regular jobs holding computer chips and aluminum tubes.

    The building's raw materials are ready-made. The standard cargo container is the ultimate artifact of global industry and relentless trade, and here 148 of them are stacked at the city's rusty edge. The effect is unexpectedly graceful. The great steel boxes are arranged in a checkerboard pattern, alternating with angled sheets of canvas, giving the walls a corrugated texture and making the 4,800-pound containers look simultaneously massive and dainty.



    A $5 million "bargain"

    The enclosure looks brilliantly straightforward, but building it wasn't easy: Hoisting large canvas panels from a barge onto the roof turned out to be like trying to pilot kites through frigid bluster. On his last visit before the opening of the show, Ban was visibly appalled to learn that the building had cost $5 million - a bargain for so much Manhattan real estate, perhaps, but far more than he had hoped. ("The Gates" cost more than four times as much.)

    Inside, the long, dark hall becomes a nave, where ghostly pillars and rafters made of cardboard tubing materialize out of the gloom. Colbert's photographs are suspended between the columns like framed rectangles of golden light. At the far end is a multimedia altar, where his hour-long film of interspecies harmony runs in a continuous loop, accompanied by a commissioned score.

    In this sacramental space, the photos seduce through starkness and spirituality. Printed on rough paper handmade in Japan, they nevertheless have a sleek graphic simplicity reminiscent of magazine ads.

    A boy with eyes closed and a Modigliani face crouches serenely beside a placid cheetah. A woman in billowing white robes twists rhapsodically between two rows of pillars as a hawk swoops just above her head. A young girl lies half-submerged in a pond, apparently oblivious to the elephant about to tap her with its trunk.

    These could be scenes from a dream, though it's hard to say whether the humans have conjured the beasts or the other way around. To those of us accustomed to communing with wildlife only through fences or car windows, the improbable meetings between fauna look as though they must have been digitally manipulated, but Colbert swears not.



    Species sharing space

    "I see this as a poetic field study," he said. "I go and interact with people who try to look at the world through the eyes of an elephant." At times, he must share the animals' space himself: That pony-tailed man engaged in an underwater pas de deux with a sperm whale is Colbert; nobody else was willing to get that close to one of the world's largest carnivores. "I've been able to apprentice myself to a lot of different species," he said.

    His work is both timeless and exquisitely timely. He evokes a paradisiacal vision of creatures at peace with one another, but his techniques blend ancient craft with the latest electronic tools. He e-mails images to a master printer in Italy, while assistants in his East Village workshop salvage bindings from 17th century books.

    Colbert makes the venerable fresh and the new look antique. His contemporary concern for recycling led him to invent "tea paper" made from thousands of discarded tea bags that have been soaked, sun-dried, emptied and glued into a translucent patchwork in shades of brown. He had a platoon of helpers glue great sheets of tea paper onto plywood boards, then weatherproof them with beeswax and attach the panels to the facade of Ban's museum. The result is a triumphant merger of the prefabricated and the handmade.



    Control freak

    There is paradox, too, in his aestheticized displays of surrender to the wild. As an activist, he deplores the human habit of erecting barriers between civilization and the natural world. But as an artist, Colbert exerts the totalizing control of someone obsessed with detail and determined to shape the perfect environment for his work. He has enshrined his images in bespoke architecture, lighting and music.

    Linear, monochrome and etched in bold lights and darks, Colbert's pictures beg to be transferred to poster and page. In reproduction, though, they look striking but flat, veering close to cloying commercial illustration.

    It's only when they float in Ban's hallowed warehouse that they acquire their full spectrum of vibrato. The exhibit envelops its visitors, plunging them deep into an animate cavern, before spitting them back out, dazzled and edified, onto the Hudson's gritty banks, where wildlife consists mostly of citified rats.



    WHEN & WHERE "Ashes and Snow" - through June 6 at the Nomadic Museum, Pier 54 at West 13th Street, Manhattan. For hours and admission prices, call 866-468-7619, or visit www.ashesandsnow.org.

    ARTifacts

    The Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has made a career assembling poetic buildings from cheap, factory-made parts. After the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, he and a corps of volunteers spent five weeks erecting a church made of cardboard tubes like giant toilet-paper rolls. Though it was intended as emergency solace, a decade later, the Paper Church still stands.

    "For me, there's no difference between a temporary and a permanent building," Ban said during a visit to the Manhattan pier, where workers accustomed to building skyscrapers were assembling his Nomadic Museum with shipping containers, paper pillars and prefab canvas panels. "Do you know how durable concrete is? It gets damaged after 10 years, and it's very difficult to repair. It gets destroyed by earthquakes. Paper buildings don't."

    The Japanese architect came to New York in the early 1980s to be near a band of young architectural innovators dubbed the "New York Five": Peter Eisenman, Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk and Michael Graves. Shuttling between Japan and New York over the next 20 years, Ban developed the notion of the high-class shack. He built a "Wall-less House," in which the floor curves up cavelike to meet the ceiling at one end and opens onto the landscape at the other.

    Among his current projects is a single-family house in Sagaponack in which factory-made cabinets double as structural supports, much the same as the Nomadic Museum's cargo boxes do.

    Ban is fascinated with the elegance of efficiency, but he insists that nobody should confuse storage space with living space. "Many architects have proposed building with containers," he said, "but I'm not interested in the interior of the container."

    - Justin Davidson

    Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.

  3. #18

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    According to http://www.ashesandsnow.org/

    Exhibition
    Open to the Public from 5 March 2005 to 6 June 2005

    Museum Hours
    Tuesday to Thursday 11 am to 7 pm
    Friday and Saturday 11 am to 8 pm
    Sunday 12 noon to 5 pm
    Closed Mondays

    Ticket Prices
    General Admission $12
    “Pay as you wish” Tuesday 11 am to 3 pm

  4. #19

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/12/ar...gn/12ashe.html
    March 12, 2005
    ART REVIEW | GREGORY COLBERT
    When Nature Becomes a Looking Glass: A Tour Through the Exotic Elsewhere
    By ROBERTA SMITH

    Sometimes it takes a temple, a big awe-inspiring chunk of architecture to give art a proper aura. Sometimes such a setting makes matters worse. A case in point is "Ashes and Snow," Gregory Colbert's spectacularly vacuous exhibition of 200 large photographs and a slow-moving film in the vaulting Nomadic Museum, a temporary structure made of shipping containers that covers most of Pier 54 on the Hudson River at 13th Street.

    Installed in this environmentally smart, if eminently Egyptian pavilion, designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, Mr. Colbert's efforts form an exercise in conspicuous narcissism that is off the charts, even by today's standards.

    The exhibition, whose next stop is Los Angeles, is a kind of vanity production. Its cost has been met by the Bianimale Foundation, founded by Mr. Colbert and largely financed through the sale of his work. The foundation also supports environmental initiatives in Africa, as well as the more modest efforts of two other artists. (Also under way is a project with the choreographer William Forsythe.) The show, which has a $12 admission charge, is also partly sponsored by Rolex, which purchased these photographs from the foundation and is covering the show's extensive advertising.

    Mr. Colbert's sepia-toned images prove once again that while colonialism may be dead or dying, its tropes are ever with us. In these pictures, beautiful non-Western women and children interact with exotic animals in faraway places and at revered ancient sites. Beatific teenage monks bow before elephants at temples on the plain of Pagan in the former Burma. A nearly naked daughter of the African bush, her hair in exquisite cornrows, leans dreamily into the flank of a watchful cheetah in the Namibian desert. The muscular, ponytailed Mr. Colbert, wearing a sarong, dives with sperm whales, plays hide and seek with a manatee, and swims in deep water with an elephant.

    Many of these images are striking for their simplicity, serenity and how-did-they-do-that? drama. Who doesn't love majestic animals, or "nature's masterpieces," as Mr. Colbert calls them? But you would barely think twice about these photographs if you saw them framed under glass in a Chelsea art gallery. They're too derivative.

    They take us back to nature along the familiar routes of fashion photography, spare-no-expense ad campaigns and National Geographic cultural tourism. They evoke Richard Avedon's 1955 fashion classic "Dovima With Elephants," Irving Penn's images of stoic Peruvian peasants, images of the young Dalai Lama and bus stop posters for expensive spas. They hark back to the 19th century, when early photographers traipsed the globe to record the alien glories of empire for the folks back home, and the early 20th, when Isadora Duncan was photographed dancing among Greek ruins.

    Mr. Colbert's ruins include the great Temple of Amun at Karnak, Egypt, where Berthe Bermudez, a graceful latte-skinned woman, is seen dancing in a turban and white priestess caftan, while a royal eagle, looking very much like the birds depicted in the temple's famous reliefs, performs breathtakingly close fly-bys. Holding long feathers in her hands, she performs a similar turn with an eagle at the Temple of Hatshepsut at Luxor.

    Blown up to as much as 10 feet across and displayed like hanging scrolls in the darkened interior of the Nomadic Museum, the images are part of an art spectacle as extravagant in its own way as Christo's "Gates," with the 45,000-square-foot Shigeru Ban pavilion the most interesting element. While not the first example of sustainable architecture to be displayed in New York, it must be the largest, and should help raise public awareness about building with reusable or recycled materials.

    But the structure's interior, Mr. Colbert's domain, is Anne Rice by way of Pottery Barn, a setting worthy of induction rites for the cult of Isis. The lights are low and the music eerie. Five dozen tall columns flank a promenade of handsome rough-hewn wood. Suspended on thin wires, the photographs seem to float between the columns, while their hard-edged shadows, thanks to the pinpoint illumination, are cast onto swaths of white crushed stone on either side of the wood pathway. If Batman were a Minimalist, these ink-black rectangles would be his symbol.

    The columns may be recycled cardboard tubes, but at 35 feet tall, and closely regimented into a procession several hundred feet long, they invoke the power of ancient pharaohs who ruled as gods. Not surprisingly, in Mr. Colbert's film that screens continuously at the far end of the building, he starts to seem a bit godlike. The pretentious voiceover, written by Mr. Colbert and narrated by the actor Laurence Fishburne, is riddled with clichés and first-person pronouns: "I want to see through the elephant's eyes. I want to dance the dance that has no steps. I want to become the dance."

    Also sepia-toned, the film serves as the both exhibition's denouement and its indictment. The animals, of course, are even more imposing when shown in motion; their majesty, vulnerability and wisdom become almost visceral. But gratuitousness abounds. In one sequence, Ms. Bermudez and some other dancers flail à la Duncan in the water while elephants shift around behind them. The camera avoids any wet dashiki moments by staying above the clavicle. Another sequence, in which Ms. Bermudez interacts with a pack of rather aggressive African wild dogs, is pointlessly scary.

    And of course there's the artist himself: the only white guy and adult male in sight. He swims with the animals and occasionally with other humans: beautiful women, who, like him, are bare-chested and clothed in sarongs. Toward the end of the film, he participates in an underwater duet that demurely borders on foreplay.

    This exhibition pulls out all the stops to sensitize us to the natural world, but mainly it reveals that selfless sincerity is often close to overweaning egomania and that the path between them is unconsciousness.

    "Ashes and Snow" is on view through June 6 at the Nomadic Museum, Hudson River Park, Pier 54, at 13th Street.

  5. #20

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    I went to this on pay-what-you-want Tuesday. (11am-3pm). Best quarter I ever spent!
    The interior is quite church-like. Very effective, interesting mega-artwork like the Gates.






    http://www.nyc-architecture.com/CHE/CHE-037.htm

  6. #21

    Default Hudson River Park

    It is sure looking good out there...I was there on sunday, and with the good weather it looked almost like, dare I say, Venice Beach in L.A.?

  7. #22

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    From last evening's episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent . . .
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #23

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    Murphy, Sieber, Vilanch Perform at Pride Celebration, June 20

    Donna Murphy, Christopher Sieber, Bruce Vilanch and Orfeh are some of the stars lined up to perform at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center's annual Garden Party Pride Celebration on June 20th from 6 to 10 PM at Pier 54 on Manhattan's West Side.

    Suede and Jimmy James will also perform, as well as jazz guitarist and his wife, singer Jessica Molaskey (Songs for a New World, Parade). In addition, Terrence McNally will be honored with the the Vanguard Award; Hairspray's Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman will present the award to him. Comedian Kate Clinton will emcee the evening, while New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Delta Burke, Leslie Uggams, Bob Guiney, and the Lavender Light Gay Gospel Choir and the Youth Pride Chorus are scheduled to make appearances.

    Murphy is a Tony Award-winner for Passion and The King and I, and has also appeared on Broadway in Wonderful Town and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Sieber received a Tony nomination for his role as Sir Galahad in Spamalot; his other Broadway credits include Chicago, Into the Woods and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Vilanch is a comedian and comedy-writer who currently stars as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, while Orfeh has appeared in the Actor's Fund Benefit concerts of Hair and Dreamgirls, as well as on Broadway in Saturday Night Fever and Footloose. McNally is a four-time Tony winner--for his plays Master Class and Love! Valour! Compassion!, and for his books to the musicals Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman. His other plays include Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, and Bad Habits, while he has also penned the books of The Full Monty and The Rink.

    Hudson River Park's Pier 54 is located on the West Side of Manhattan at 14th Street. Ticket prices begin at $50.

    Visit www.gaycenter.org for more information on the Garden Party and other Center events.

  9. #24
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    Default Beer on the Pier

    Expensive, but a lot of stuff....


    http://www.beeronthepier.com/

  10. #25

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    What's the official scope of the original Chelsea Piers?

    I assume the southern boundary is the Cunard/White Star Pier 54 at Little West 12th Street.

    I'm curious if the piers between 23rd and 42nd were also part of the complex.

  11. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by americasroof
    What's the official scope of the original Chelsea Piers?

    I assume the southern boundary is the Cunard/White Star Pier 54 at Little West 12th Street.

    I'm curious if the piers between 23rd and 42nd were also part of the complex.
    Chelsea Piers, completed ca. 1910, consisted of Piers 53-62 and did not include the piers between 23rd and 42nd. This vintage post card shows the southern end of the complex and Lusitania beside Pier 54:



    This 1931 aerial shot shows the entire complex and a nice collection of steamers and biplanes and Majestic easing into one of the White Star berths at the northern end:

    Last edited by ManhattanKnight; May 24th, 2006 at 09:53 AM.

  12. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by ManhattanKnight
    Chelsea Piers, completed ca. 1910, consisted of Piers 53-62 and did not include the piers between 23rd and 42nd.
    Thanks Manhattan for the quick response and cool photos.

    I started a wikipedia article on the Pier and included a link to this thread:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pier_54


    The article on Chelsea Piers needs some expansion if anybody is so inclined.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_Piers

    For good measure here's a photo of the Carpethia at the pier after it brought in the Titanic survivors.

  13. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by americasroof

    I started a wikipedia article on the Pier and included a link to this thread:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pier_54
    The Wikipedia article describes Pier 54 as being "the intended docking point of the RMS Titanic in 1912." That's incorrect. As a White Star vessel, Titanic would have used one of the White Star piers at the opposite end of the complex. When Cunard's Carpathia arrived with Titanic's survivors, she first sailed upriver to the White Star berths, where she lowered Titanic's lifeboats into the water, and then went back down to Cunard's Pier 54 to discharge her human cargo.

    Today's seeming inability to get anything grand built in NYC is hardly a new phenomenon. The construction of Chelsea Piers was hugely controversial and took decades to complete. The generation of long ships typified by Lusitania required the creation of piers long enough to accommodate them, but the US War Department, which had jurisdiction over navigable waters like the Hudson, refused to approve the construction of piers extending further into the channel than the existing piers. The solution was to remove all landfill and buildings between Thirteenth Avenue and West Street from 12th to 23rd Streets (and Thirteenth Avenue itself), creating space for the new piers.
    Last edited by ManhattanKnight; May 24th, 2006 at 12:18 PM.

  14. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by ManhattanKnight
    The Wikipedia article describes Pier 54 as being "the intended docking point of the RMS Titanic in 1912." That's incorrect. As a White Star vessel, Titanic would have used one of the White Star piers at the opposite end of the complex. When Cunard's Carpathia arrived with Titanic's survivors, she first sailed upriver to the White Star berths, where she lowered Titanic's lifeboats into the water, and and then went back down to Cunard's Pier 54 to discharge her human cargo.

    Today's seeming inability to get anything grand built in NYC is hardly a new phenomenon. The construction of Chelsea Piers was hugely controversial and took decades to complete. The generation of long ships typified by Lusitania required the creation of piers long enough to accommodate them, but the US War Department, which had jurisdiction over navigable waters like the Hudson, refused to approve the construction of piers extending further into the channel than the existing piers. The solution was to remove all landfill and buildings between Thirteenth Avenue and West Street from 12th to 23rd Streets (and Thirteenth Avenue itself), creating space for the new piers.
    That's all pretty cool. Thanks! You can of course modify a wikipedia article directly (and unfortunately it can become very addicting). After your posting I searched for more detail and I see that the Titanic's intended destination was Pier 60. There's a lot of pages out there that say Pier 54 was the destination (thanks no doubt to the fact that the Cunard White Star sign is still visible there).

  15. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by americasroof
    the Cunard White Star sign is still visible there
    That faded sign reflects the merger of Cunard and White Star in (I believe) 1935, which the British government required as a condition for subsidizing the completion of Queen Mary. "White Star" remained in the company's name until (I believe) 1952.

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