Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
Artist Olafur Eliasson called on 10 top architecture firms to create scaled-down structures with Legos—which viewers are free to pick apart.
It’s Christmas in June in New York City!
Olafur Eliasson is one of the artists participating in “Panorama,” an open-air group exhibition supported by High Line Art. Like a Danish-Icelandic Santa Claus, the artist hauled two tons of white Lego bricks to the High Line for everyone to play with at West 30th Street. His installation is called The collectivity project, it just opened, and it couldn’t be much simpler in scope: Artist brings Legos, viewers play with them.
Two tons of Legos in the name of conceptual art! What a time to be alive.
Eliasson didn’t just dump a sack of Legos out in Chelsea, of course. The artist invited architects from 10 select firms—like a bunch of design-minded elves—to help him out. Each architecture firm contributed a design in white Legos, which viewers, like the ungrateful children they are, are picking apart.
Already, the Baobab tree designed by James Corner Field Operations is being dismantled. The spiky spires designed by Bjarke Ingels Group and SHoP Architects aren’t long for this world. Robert A.M. Stern Architects more or less designed a Robert A.M. Stern Architects building, which are always white and blocky. It won’t look that way for long.
Eliasson is drawing on all the changes coming to part of Manhattan where the High Line runs. Each of the firms he tapped for The collectivity project —BIG, David M. Schwarz Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, James Corner Field Operations, OMA New York, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Selldorf Architects, SHoP Architects, and Steven Holl Architects—is designing something near the High Line in real life. (James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro created the High Line itself).
As fantastical as these Lego projects look, they’re nothing like the buildings going up nearby, including—among other things—the all-new Whitney Museum of American Art and an honest-to-goodness pyramid. None of these things would be possible without the High Line, easily one of the wildest stories in the history of New York revitalization. The High Line is the gift that keeps on giving.