Location: New York City, USA
Research Area: Spatial Justice
Fun Palace of Musicians distinguishes transportation hubs as settings in which a personal desire, one to connect, elevates to shape an impartial collective culture in order to find fulfillment. Commending these extraordinary and cultivating environments, the proposal descries an opportunity for fostering new collective events within them. Examining this site-specific opportunity the proposal eyes for inspiring new ways of reclaiming space and cultivating events in our cities.
Grand Central Terminal, New York City, the largest in the world by the number of platforms (44), is perhaps the most intriguing example of such settings. Covering forty-eight acres of land it contains some of the most expensive space in the world. The station attracts 750, 000 people everyday who go there to travel,shop or visit. However what makes Grand Central Terminal such an extraordinary setting is that it attracts riders from almost the entire range of income spectrum as well as ethnic, professional and cultural backgrounds. In that, it becomes a near perfect reflection of New York City itself.
A terminus train station like Grand Central Terminal is particularly intriguing: the collision of these shaping forces, and mainly them, finds an explicit expression in terminal’s bottle-shaped anatomy. From a design stand point, this clarity facilitate a more concrete understanding of these forces and what they entail: In Grand Central Terminal a parallel arrangement of trains must transition into a serial arrangement before a train can depart. This inevitably generates temporal departure gaps which, on platforms translates into an ever-changing number and configurations of train cars waiting their turn to depart. In an extraordinary cycle a spatial attribute (configuration of platforms in plan) generates temporal inefficiencies (schedule gaps) which in turn results in spatial opportunities (unused spaces in empty trains) of vastly different nature and scale; a cycle from large to small, from static to dynamic, and from permanent to ephemeral. Should these underutilized spaces be reclaimed, the terminal can accommodate events of equally different nature.
Replacing a number of cars in each train with modified cars that can support temporary art events will help claim some of the unused spaces in the terminal. Modifications would maximize accessibility as well as visual and aural connections with the platforms. They could also facilitate interconnections between cars on different platforms. Each modified car, or coalition of neighboring modified cars, will host an event that best fits the available space and time.
This transforms the terminal into a two-dimensional matrix of regular and modified cars whose ever-changing value combinations are functions of the terminal’s schedule (time) as well as the number and placement (space) of modified cars within each train.
Employing cybernetics the project invites public to participate in mediating the space-time-event dynamics to maintain its relevance and spontaneity. Participants’ input will inform the placement of modified cars within each train on daily basis as well as the nature of event for each available space-time. It also invites the endlessly shifting group of users to engage in the event in real-time and a more meaningful and creative way, replacing a schedule gap with an active encounter. At the same time, the site retains its full efficiency as a transportation hub.
The new Terminal will animate the untapped potential of Grand Central Terminal for the trains’ users, the city’s artists, and its owners.
For riders, the new terminal is no longer a place where wait time is “measured only by a clock”. It can be “measured in rhythms” of one’s choice, a musical events or a series of them, played in harmony or in sequence. The harmony is in space and in time. And it is not what the laws of physics define or ones ideals of it. It is created by the previous riders, which in grand central terminal is New York City and beyond. Space is not measured in feet. It is measured in eventful train cars or a number of them. Encounters are active as music transcends language, race, and reason.
For the artists, the terminal is stage for connecting with the many music producers taking the train directly or through the recognition they gain in social media. The artists would monetize their art by receiving cash in their guitar cases or in a dedicated bank account that receives money on pay-per-space-time-event-artist basis from people watching the event live at home. And from the private performances they are commissioned through subway riders.
For the owners the “fixed” heritage building is not their only “rent monopoly”. Grand Central terminal offers an additional “special” quality that cannot be replicated. In the new terminal space is no longer too static or too durable, it is mobile and “annihilates” itself in time, only to accommodate a new event. The owners would receive a portion of each pay-per-space-time-event to keep things running and a portion of loyalties from contract artist’s sign while performing in Grand Terminal.