Covering Battery Park City

[media-credit name="Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer " align="aligncenter" width="600"][/media-credit]

A team from Leslie E. Robertson, structural engineers, working on a structure called “Shedding Light on Hunger” during the annual Canstruction event at the World Financial Center.

Canstruction at the World Financial Center:
Every year, on the night of the Canstruction build, teams from some of the city’s top architectural and engineering firms plus some students under their direction apply their skills to erecting improbable sculptures out of canned food. This year, among other phantasmagoria, a giant seahorse reared its head, balancing on its curled tail. The ship Titanic toppled precipitously into the ocean and a bowling ball hit some pins, sending them sprawling.

The teams may have spent months planning their competition entries, but they have just one night, starting at 6:30 p.m., to execute their plan. They have to be finished by dawn. Only five people at a time are allowed to work on each structure, with a sixth who can help out by unboxing the cans. Their efforts are judged by a professional panel that awards prizes in categories such as Best Use of Labels, Best Meal and Structural Ingenuity. A few days before Thanksgiving, the sculptures are dismantled and the food donated to City Harvest, which uses it to stock community food programs over the holidays.

Canstruction was founded in 1992 by the Society for Design Administration (SDA) with Canstruction events now to be found in more than 100 cities worldwide. In New York City, for the last four years, the event has taken place at the World Financial Center. The A.I.A. New York Chapter is one of the sponsors of the New York competition along with arts>World Financial Center.

Participating firms donate staff time and also pick up the tab for the food. This year, 26 firms entered the New York City competition. American Express erected the largest of this year’s sculptures, with 16,000 cans that created an edifice called “Box Out Hunger.” Build night was Wednesday, Nov. 9, but the entries were not actually judged until Monday, Nov. 14 in order to make sure that none of them fell down.

Honorable Mention went to “Shedding Light on Hunger” from Leslie E. Robertson Associates, an engineering firm that is working on 1 World Trade Center and 4 World Trade Center and to “NepTUNA, the HippoCANpus Against Hunger” from Gilsanz Murray Steficek LLP. Gruzen Samton, (which has been responsible for the architecture of a number of Lower Manhattan buildings, including Stuyvesant High School),working with IBI Group won the Best Use of Labels Award for “QR-CAN: Link to Fight Hunger.” This clever structure would allow someone with a QR scanner app on their camera phone to link to the website canstruction.org, according to Abraham Rodriguez, one of those on the team that built it. Dattner Architects got the Best Meal Award for “Root Against Hunger” while Skanska took the Structural Ingenuity Award for “Suspending Hunger” — a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge. “Loaded Dice” from Gensler / WSP Flack + Kurtz was deemed the Jurors’ Favorite.

The sculptures can be viewed through Nov. 21. To supplement the more than 100,000 cans of food that have been used in the sculptures, visitors are asked to bring additional canned food and leave it at the administrative table for the event, which is at the top of the northern escalator in the Winter Garden at 2 World Financial Center.

According to the New York Coalition Against Hunger, the need for food is increasing in New York City. As of September 2010, 1.7 million New Yorkers received food stamp benefits, up from 200,000 people in June 2009, the Coalition Against Hunger has reported.  In 2009, one in eight households in New York State could not afford an adequate supply of food.

Equestrian sculpture:
Battery Park City, known for its public art works, now has a new addition. A 16-foot-tall bronze equestrian sculpture, “De Oppresso Liber,” by Douwe Blumberg, was part of the New York City Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11, 2011. After processing down Fifth Avenue on a float, the 5,000-pound statue was installed in a lobby on the east side of 1 World Financial Center. It honors U.S. Army Special Forces personnel who fought their way on horseback across the rugged mountains of Afghanistan in the weeks following 9/11. The name of the statue comes from the U.S. Army Special Forces motto and means “to free from oppression.”  U.S. Vice President Joe Biden unveiled the statue. It will remain in the World Financial Center until a permanent home can be found for it. Zuccotti Park has been suggested as has the World Trade Center site. The statue, which cost $500,000, belongs to the United War Veterans Council and was paid for with private funds.

Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra’s fourth season: Downtown’s own chamber orchestra, the Knickerbocker, kicked off its fourth season with a fundraising soirée at Battery Park City’s Poets House on Monday, Nov. 14. N.Y. State Senator Daniel Squadron opened the concert by commending the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra and Poets House for bringing arts to the Downtown community. The evening, called “Musical Poetry,” presented members of the orchestra performing musical settings of cherished 19th and 20th century poems preceded by a buffet. Baritone Richard Weidrich rendered songs with lyrics by e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson and John Masefield. The Knickerbocker’s founder, Gary Fagin, conducted.

The Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra’s next outing will be on Jan. 14 at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center with a free performance called “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Music” in honor of the 125th anniversary of the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty.

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@mac.com

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