Surveying the Great Hall
Directly above our Design Lab project at the New York Hall of Science, one of the most unique spaces in New York City is currently undergoing major restoration work. The Great Hall, also known as the Cathedral of Science, is a 7,000 square foot exhibition space enclosed by a 100 foot tall scalloped dalle de verre façade, where 5400 inch-thick panels of cobalt blue glass are cast into concrete tiles and then set into cast-in-place concrete cells. Restoration work entails tediously waterproofing each of the cells and cleaning the tiles with a latex application. In order to access each of the tiles, an elaborate scaffold has been constructed in the Great Hall, echoing the undulation of the concrete walls with a matrix of metal pipes and wooden planks.
To us, the scaffolding construction is just as impressive as the original building. Standard, off-the-shelf units, typically used for rectilinear construction, gradually curve into and around each turn of the façade. Straight wooden planks overlap and spread as the pathways transition from concave to convex. The construction is an architecture within another architecture, built to allow for inhabitation of the space not intended by the original architect. The construction is built with an economy of materials and time; built for a specific purpose, without aesthetic consideration. The combination of the architectures, the original Great Hall, and the scaffold recalls the work of our enormously inspirational former professor and friend, Lebbeus Woods.
To document the moment in the history of the building and to inhabit this extraordinary space, we’re attempting to fly a time-lapse camera through the middle of the space. The project entails building a camera rig where we will be able to slowly lift a time-lapse camera 70 feet from floor to ceiling. As the camera rises and falls over 3 hours the camera will be slowly rotating and tilting to survey the space with a corkscrew motion. To see the design and construction of the rig and some of the footage, have a look at the little ‘making of video’ we’ve put together here: