The City of Dreams Competition is organized by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA), the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) and FIGMENT NY, a non-profit arts organization. The competition brief asked architects and designers to propose a pavilion with the theme “the city of dreams” that would employ recycled or recyclable materials. Out of hundreds of entries, BanGs Billion Oyster Pavilion was chosen as a winner.
What is the Billion Oyster Pavilion?
The Billion Oyster Pavilion is a temporary pavilion that will make a permanent contribution to New York. All of the materials used to construct the project will be re-used by the Harbor School to re-build oyster habitat in New York’s waterways. As a focal point of the arts festival, the Billion Oyster Pavilion will make the important work being done by the Harbor School visible and tangible for hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Oysters need a place to live too! The Billion Oyster Pavilion will be turned into two different kinds of housing for oysters at the end of the season. The cast concrete elements at the base of the pavilion are actually BanG’s custom designed “Reef Balls.” The woven canopy will be turned into “Oyster Condos”- metal cages that are filled with old oyster shells. Both the Reef Balls and Oyster Condos will be covered in oyster spat and placed into the harbor to anchor new oyster reefs.
In addition to providing material for hundreds of new reef structures, the Pavilion will also bring publicity and awareness to the Billion Oyster Project. The public will have the opportunity to see and understand two of the key technologies used by the BOP and to learn about their use.
How will we make a Reef Pavilion?
Testing, Testing: 1, 2, 3…
We used Grasshopper and Rhino, two integrated design software programs, to develop the structural system that will bring this pavilion to life. In consultation with engineers at Robert Silman Associates, we verified the design parameters and numerically confirmed its structural stability. We are now in the process of physically assembling and testing each of the pavilion’s components.
Reef Balls: With our in-house 3d printer, we have made a reusable formwork to cast full sized prototypes of the reefballs, and they are looking good so far! After consulting with casting experts, we are developing an even better two-part formwork that will speed up production of the 250 reef balls we have to make in time for the summer.
Oyster Condos: The condos are made from welded rebar triangles. The canopy is made by interconnecting 400 of these rebar triangles to span over the pavilion. The triangles are pre-assembled and pre-woven in modules of 4. At BanG HQ we have already begun testing them and weaving with various types of marine line. We are looking for a marine line that won’t sag too much, and of course, is an awesome color.
Once we have settled on the best techniques for the construction of the Billion Oyster Pavilion, we will have a fun (& intense!) few months ahead of us at the studio.
- Welding rebar into the triangles that form the canopy.
- Cable tying the triangles together.
- Weaving the 4 triangle modules and fixing the weave with zip ties.
- Making form work for the reef balls.
- Mixing concrete and casting the final reef balls.
Time is of the essence so we’ve made a solid schedule to keep us on track and make sure we deliver the best pavilion possible. If you’re interested in volunteering at any stage we’d love to have you.
On Site Installation
The reef balls and the canopy modules will be transported from our studio in Long Island City to Governors Island by land and sea (or all by sea if someone would like to donate the use of a boat?). Installation entails first stacking the reef balls and locking them into place to form the pavilion walls. Then each of the woven triangular modules will have to be lifted into place and cable tied to the next module to create the playful canopy.
Some of the best things in life aren’t free. FIGMENT is a not-for profit arts organization, and all of their money comes from donations and fundraising efforts like this one. The Billion Oyster Project (also not-for-profit) will benefit greatly from all of the donated material and publicity this project will generate. Aside from the raw material, there are transport costs, labor costs (some work cannot be done by volunteers), installation workshops, maintenance, and then of course de-installation and site repair so we leave the island as magnificent as we found it.
We are passionate about this project and the restoration of our harbor.We hope that you can support it too! This Kickstarter is not only an investment in the Billion Oyster Pavilion, it is an investment in New York Harbor and our incredibly unique marine culture.
Let’s get our oysters back!!
FIGMENT is a free participatory arts event held in 13 cities in three countries on two continents, and attracting tens of thousands of participants each year. FIGMENT celebrates an abundance of creativity and passion, challenging artists and our communities to find new ways to create, share, think and dream.
ENYA, AIA New York Chapter
It is the goal of the Emerging New York Architects Committee to encourage membership, participation, and leadership in the AIANY Chapter among intern architects, young architects (licensed 10 years or less), and emerging professionals in the fields of design and construction.
SEAoNY is a member organization of the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations whose purpose is to advance the art of structural engineering in New York by improving the flow of ideas and building the community of colleagues. The association sponsors workshops, panel discussions, lectures and seminars with the aim of addressing topics of interest and concern to structural engineers.
Thanks a billion to..
Thanks so much to Billion Oyster Project for being the spat on our shell. Thanks to Figment, ENYA and SEAoNY for this amazing opportunity.
Thanks to Emily Lawi and her team at EGL Media for making this possible.
A special Aw shucks thanks to Suzie Betts. And a huge thank you for looking at our project!
If you’d like to get updates on how the pavilion is coming along please be our friend! Follow us on your social media of preference – or all of them!
Risks and challenges
There will be lots of challenges thrown our way while making this pavilion a reality. We will need good quality materials that will create a sound structure as a pavilion but will also work as artificial oyster reef. We need to get things like the pH balance of the concrete right in order to support oyster regeneration.
We have begun several large scale mockups of the components of BOP, and we are working closely with engineers to ensure the structure is stable. The next step will be to combine all of these elements to make a full scale piece of the pavilion and test it every way possible!
We have worked a lot in the past on pavilions and installations of a similar scale and are confident we can make this one work too. We understand that unforeseen challenges will inevitably arise but with our well-considered schedule and your support we know that we can tackle them.
200,000 people will visit the pavilion this summer for free and learn about the ecology of our incredible marine environment. Please back our project, spread the word, and/or join our team!