Ads are being blocked

For us to continue writing great stories, we need to display ads.

Un-block Learn more


Please select the extension that is blocking ads.

Ad Block Plus Ghostery uBlock Other Blockers

Please follow the steps below

Artist Builds Living Room Atop Towering NYC Statue

Tatzu Nishi’s “Discovering Columbus” is mounted six stories up in Columbus Circle.

NYC Mayor's Office

Artist Tatzu Nishi thinks New Yorkers don't get enough face time with Christopher Columbus, who surveys the city from a perch six stories up in Columbus Circle. So he's built an entire room around the explorer's statue, accessible by stairway, so people can get close and personal with him in a way they never could before.

The "Discovering Columbus" installation, which opened today, is the latest mind-twisting project from the Public Art Fund (you might recall that group's upside-down plane in Central Park this summer). The organization tapped Tatzu for his first American intervention after noticing his makeshift rooms for public monuments elsewhere around the world, such as a swanky apartment in Basel that used a cathedral's weather vane as a coffee-table prop and a luxury hotel suite around Singapore's Merlion fountain. Here's the artist posing inside that surreal crash pad with the fountain's mythical fish-lion:

(Reuters/Tim Chong)

The Public Art Fund has more details of the airy room's amenities in Columbus Circle:

Nishi’s project re-imagines the colossal 13-foot-tall statue of Columbus standing in a fully furnished, modern living room. Featuring tables, chairs, couch, rug, and flat-screen television, the décor reflects the artist’s interpretation of contemporary New York style. He even designed wallpaper inspired by memories of American popular culture, having watched Hollywood movies and television as a child in Japan.

Erecting the bespoke room required several pounds of bureaucratic sign-off forms, including one from the Fire Department approving its "adequate means of egress." (No, not through the window.) Anyone can visit if they have a timed ticket, and there's even a hoist for those in wheelchairs. And if anybody's poorly raised child sticks gum on Columbus' regal robe, no worries: The city plans to use Tatzu's room as a platform this winter to perform restoration work on the circa-1892 statue.

Here are a few more picks from the artist's sky-high oeuvre, beginning with 2009's War and peace and in between in Sydney:

(The Clovenhoof Society/Flickr)

From the same project:


Transformation of a church in 2007 in Medellín, Colombia:


A new kind of house, in Nantes, France, in 2007:


Top image courtesy of the New York City Mayor's Office on Flickr.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.