Sequestered by the sea and the A train still out until at least June, the Rockaways and the continued rebuilding there from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy can be easy to overlook. MoMA PS1 along with MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design are holding a call for ideas for what could be a more sustainable waterfront for the Rockaways, the seaside district of Queens near JFK airport. The open call is, in large part, an effort to remind people that help is needed, explained Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1, and to grab the attention of architects and artists in considering a stable infrastructure for the future of the area.
“I took someone who I know from the art world out to the Rockaways, and you cannot believe how shocked people are,” said Biesenbach. “Three months after the hurricane there’s still no stores, there’s no train … there’s no sand on the beach, there’s a total devastation. We New Yorkers, we fall and get up again, and in Manhattan everything is fine again, but the Rockaways are very dire. The A train doesn’t get there, there’s no train going there. There’s no stores, no place to meet, there’s no place to go out.”
Biesenbach was incredibly active in rallying and organizing volunteers for recovery immediately after Sandy, and he said he intends to reach out to the city with the open call. The call itself is very broad and open-ended, inviting anyone, along with artists, architects, and designers, to present their ideas for “alternative housing models, creation of social spaces, urban interventions, new uses of public space, the rebuilding of the boardwalk, protection of the shoreline, and actions to engage local communities.”
“We want to be able to be surprised — to have something very surprising, perhaps under the radar, that is actually a genius idea,” Biesenbach said.
After the call ends, 25 of these ideas will be selected by a jury including Biesenbach, Barry Bergdoll, Peter Eleey, Pedro Gadanho, Niklas Maak, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and others involved in architecture, design, and urban planning. These will be made available online, as well as in presentations in the temporary VW Dome 2 (a sequel to the VW Dome in the MoMA PS1 courtyard) in Rockaway Beach in April. This temporary structure will act as a venue for a conversation between the creators, specialists, and importantly the local community in considering the future of the Queens waterfront neighborhood.
To submit an idea through a short video, visit the MoMA PS1 website. The deadline is March 15.
With reporting by Jillian Steinhauer