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Call for Proposals: The City of Dreams Pavilion

19 January 2010 No Comment

FIGMENT's City of Dreams Area

Photo (c) 2008 Jim Henderson

Since Governors Island first opened to the public in 2004, the attention and interest that this new public place has received has increased exponentially. In 2009, over 275,000 people visited the island through its summer season (late May to mid October) to engage in a variety of arts and cultural programs, as well as to enjoy summertime activities like picnicking and bike riding on the island.

FIGMENT, one of the island’s key cultural partners, has joined forces with The Emerging New York Architect Committee (ENYA) of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) to sponsor a competition to design and construct an architectural pavilion for the 2010 summer season on Governors Island, the City of Dreams Pavilion.

The City of Dreams Pavilion will be a gathering place for people to meet, learn about the arts programs on the island, be able to enjoy a planned or impromptu performance or lecture, and experience the interaction of art and the historic context of Governors Island.

Our theme for the pavilion, the City of Dreams, points toward the future. If we imagine a future New York City where anything is possible, what would it look like? In our wildest and most optimistic dreams, what is the future of the city?

The current state of the world is such that both the economy and natural resources are limited in ways we have never experienced in our lifetimes. A new way of thinking is necessary to solve the problems that the world faces. Inevitably, the result will be a change in harmful habits that have driven the world to its current state. One place to start to activate and energize these changes in within the architecture and design community, where the movement toward sustainable design has only scratched the surface of what is possible and necessary.

Instead of a typical design competition, the City of Dreams Pavilion asks entrants to consider how they will construct this temporary structure in the most efficient and sustainable way possible. Entrants should consider the entire lifecycle of building materials in their submission. Whether they do this by identifying companies that produce “cradle to cradle” products, garnering sponsorships from environmental or socially conscious groups, or re-using waste from construction sites, the materials used and the construction process should have as little impact as possible on the environment.

Entrants should submit where their materials are to come from, how their structures will be transported to the site, how they will eliminate waste during construction, and how they plan to disassemble and reuse the materials after the island closes for the season. In other words, entrants are being asked to consider using “borrowed” materials—from existing construction sites and from places where the materials can be returned after the season is over and the temporary structure is disassembled.

In the end, the goal is to create a pavilion that has net zero impact and that serves as a prototype for a new, truly sustainable, way of thinking about design and construction.

We anticipate that the pavilion will be installed in the “City of Dreams” a courtyard surrounded on three sides by Liggett Hall, and directly through an archway through the building from Colonels Row, where many summer concerts and events take place. For the last two years, the City of Dreams has been home to FIGMENT’s season-long exhibitions: a minigolf course and an interactive sculpture garden, and we anticipate that these exhibitions will be returning in 2010. Final placement of the pavilion is, however, subject to change and discussion with GIPEC upon selection. We have included CAD plans and aerial photos of the “City of Dreams” for your use in preparing your proposal.

Essential requirements of the proposal are as follows:

  • Create a gathering place for 50 or more people, providing shade and rain cover
  • Consider the full lifecycle of the materials used—where they come from and where they will go after the island closes for the 2010 season
  • Provide for the design and construction of the project, including sourcing all materials
  • All materials must be able to be transported on the Coursen Ferry (12’6” clearance)
  • The structure must be freestanding, and cannot penetrate the ground to a depth greater than 6”
  • The design must be approved by the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), and the NYC Department of Buildings prior to construction
  • Include a budget that anticipates all costs of fabrication, transportation, installation, and de-installation

Optional considerations:

  • How will the pavilion support educating the public about arts programs on the island?
  • How will the pavilion support informal performances or lectures?
  • What other kinds of activities could take place in the pavilion?


  • Submissions open: January 18, 2010
  • Registration deadline: February 8, 2010
  • Deadline for entries: February 16, 2010
  • Notification of finalists, with comments: March 1, 2010
  • Finalist proposal revisions due: March 31, 2010
  • Selection of winner: April 15, 2010
  • Construction start: May 10, 2010
  • Construction completion: by June 5, 2010

Selection criteria that the jury will consider:

  • Proposal feasibility and buildability
  • Lifecycle considerations and overall environmental impact
  • Adherence to theme
  • Design impact
  • Innovative use of materials

To enter:

Register by February 8, 2010, at http://figmentproject.org/pavilion. The fee to enter is a tax deductible donation to FIGMENT, which will be applied to the costs of building and maintaining this project, as follows:

  • Student entries – $20
  • Individual entries – $50
  • Group entries – $80

Entries are encouraged from individuals or teams of architects and non-architects of any age or experience level, provided they are prepared to carry out the project. Attribution of the winner and finalists will be given based on the names of the individuals who enter, rather than to any firm with whom they are affiliated.

The final entry should be submitted via email by registered entrants by February 16, 2010, and should include a total of three (3) 11”x17” pages in PDF format. The first two (2) pages should detail the proposed design, and the third page should include supporting documentation such as materials, budget, construction schedule, etc. The entries should not disclose the names of the entrant(s) in the PDF file, only in the covering email.

Please address any questions about the competition to pavilion@figmentproject.org.



FIGMENT is a forum for the creation and display of participatory and interactive art by emerging artists across disciplines. FIGMENT began in July 2007 as a free, one-day participatory arts event on Governors Island in New York Harbor with over 2,600 participants. Since then, FIGMENT has grown significantly each year—in number of projects, duration, participants, volunteers, fundraising capability, exhibitions, locations, overall level of commitment and participation, and public support.

In 2009, the FIGMENT event on Governors Island had over 13,000 participants, over 400 works of interactive art, and a volunteer team of over 300. In addition, FIGMENT created a season-long exhibition on the island of 16 large-scale interactive sculptures and an artist-designed 18-hole minigolf course.

FIGMENT is a project of Action Arts League, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and is created and produced by a coalition of volunteers. FIGMENT is made possible by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s SwingSpace program, which was created with lead support from the September 11th Fund. FIGMENT is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.



The Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) of the American Institute of Architects is one of the most active young architect groups in the country. At the national level, ENYA falls under the umbrella of the Young Architects Forum, an AIA Knowledge Community that provides national advocacy and leadership for the group. In conjunction with the AIA New York Chapter, ENYA develops its own programming that addresses issues specific to the New York City audience.

AIA National defines membership in young architects groups as open to “all professionals ten years or less from licensure.” However, ENYA is an equal-opportunity committee and welcomes participation from anyone willing to promote the positive development of the profession and its practitioners. ENYA strives to meet all skill levels, scholastic backgrounds and professional interests, and hosts programs of general interest to all architects. In this way, ENYA will continue to educate, expand and improve the understanding and interpretation of New York City’s architectural environment with a focus on topics of interest to young architects.

Founded in 1857, the AIA New York Chapter is the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The Chapter’s members include over 4,600 practicing architects, allied professionals, students, and public members interested in architecture and design. The AIA New York Chapter is dedicated to three goals: design excellence, public outreach, and professional development.



SEAoNY is a member organization of the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations. Presently, 39 states and the District of Columbia have structural engineers’ associations, the largest of which is SEAOC, Structural Engineers Association of California, which was founded in 1930 and presently has approximately 4000 members.

The association sponsors workshops, panel discussions, lectures and seminars with the aim of addressing topics of interest and concern to structural engineers. Our membership, which is over 500 members, includes individuals from most major structural engineering design firms in New York State.

SEAoNY also reaches out to other professionals, outside the engineering community, who work in related fields with common interests. Currently, 10% of our membership are affiliate members who come from a variety of disciplines such as geotechnical, civil, construction management and architecture.

The purpose of SEAoNY is to advance the art of structural engineering in New York by improving the flow of ideas and building the community of colleagues.

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