Everyone reacts to a life-altering disaster differently. For example, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Barack Obama for president in a surprise announcement made just days before the November 6 presidential election, stating that Obama is best equipped to deal with the climate change that Bloomberg believes contributed to Hurricane Sandy. The super storm similarly induced New York expressionist Marylyn Dintenfass to host a fundraiser in her lower west side studio for artists affected by Sandy.
And at cultureNOW, Abby Suckle, David Giglio and their team chose Tim Prentice and COOKFOX as their artist and architects of the month because their work highlights the fragility of our environment and underscores the increasing need for sustainable architecture as we move forward in the aftermath of the storm.
“In our newly delicate world,” writes cultureNOW president Abby Suckle, “we chose an artist, Tim Prentice, who’s work is almost ephemeral and depends on movement and light which he terms drawing on air.”
“I take it as an article of faith that the air around us moves in ways which are organic, whimsical, and unpredictable,” states Prentice , who fashions himself a kinetic sculptor. “I therefore assume that if I were to abdicate the design to the wind, the work would take on these same qualities. The engineer in me wants to minimize friction and inertia to make the air visible. The architect studies matters of scale and proportion. The navigator and sailor want to know the strength and direction of the wind. The artist wants to understand its changing shape. Meanwhile, the child wants to play.”
As for COOKFOX, Suckle explains, “we wanted to look at one of the architectural firms, COOKFOX, which pioneered healthier buildings and is on the technological cutting edge of environmentally sensitive design.”
COOKFOX excels at creating buildings that leave a light footprint on the environment, such as One Bryant Park, New York’s first LEED Platinum skyscraper, and 641 6th Avenue, the city’s first LEED Platinum office.
At Bryant Park, for example, there is a system for harvesting daylight, double plumbing so that the rainwater can be reused as grey water for flushing toilets, and New York’s first waterless urinals.
“But the real litmus test for commitment,” notes cultureNOW, “is when an architect plans their own office to be green, especially when money is involved and the project is smaller and a retrofit where it would be impossible to change out the whole building . But that’s what COOKFOX did at 641 6th Avenue, where the roof is planted, bees are kept, bikes are closeted, and materials do not off gas.
CultureNOW is one of the largest and most comprehensive public art registries in the country. To date, cultureNOW’s online collection encompasses more than 10,000 sites, 15,000 images and 750 pod casts recorded by artists, architects, historians and curators. Of that, Fort Myers is represented with 24 sites, 19 artist profiles and 177 photographs, all of which can be accessed by area residents and visitors on their smart phones while they are standing right in front of the artwork.