In the Fall of 2011 the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) issued a request for proposals for public art projects to commemorate the institution’s 150th anniversary. The Accelerated Ruin, a proposal for a sculpture that undergoes an uncontrolled organic decomposition was selected from over one hundred proposals submitted at the end of the year. Occupying what had been an empty and disused lot the Ruin brought the public cultural mission of BAM out of the institution’s buildings and onto the street.
A collaboration between Future Expansion Architects and the painter Timothy Hull, the ruin occupied a cavernous lot next to the entrance of BAM’s Harvey Theater on Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn. Over the course of one year the monumental form of the project devolved into ruin, its decompositional progress measured against a structure composed of hundreds of vertical aluminum poles.
In partnership with Ecovative Design, a sustainable consumer products company in Green Island, NY, an existing manufacturing process was modified to create the project’s building-scale components. The gentle peaks were constructed from a compound of agricultural waste and mycelium formed into panels and supported by an internal aluminum framework. Weather exposure and the typical urban biomass caused the panels to slowly degrade, while the mycelium substrate (a fungal root structure) became a surface hospitable to sudden mushroom growth after periods of rain.
The inherent instability of the surface meant that as the year progressed the project’s silhouette changed – growing, dying and eroding – from an apparently stable solid rendered in stone-like slabs into a field of reflective tubes. The continuous and unpredictable devolution creating a relationship between the work and the regular passersby who witnessed the transformation as part of daily life in a neighborhood in which a surge of new residential and institutional buildings are currently under construction.
Client: Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Location: Brooklyn, NY
In collaboration with Timothy Hull
Material Fabrication: Ecovative Design
Assembly Team: Sydney Cochran, Sarah Conant, Joshua Cruz, Leah Ellis, Karisha Quiogue, Erich Schachtschneider, Prangmat “Pingping” Wanapinyosak
Photography: Kevin Kunstadt (end phase), Hillary Bliss (start phase), FE (progress, empty site)
Construction completed Summer 2012 and installed on site through Summer 2013.