There is a new architectural landmark in New York City but you need to rush and see it before September 25th. That’s when it will be taken down and moved to London.
The landmark is not a building but a temporary installation of eleven concrete silos by artist Taryn Simon dubbed An Occupation of Loss and located in the Park Avenue Armory. Designed in collaboration with OMA and its lead New York partner Shohei Shigematsu, the silos (or soundproof “inverted wells”) are made of pre-cast concrete. The wells are not simply backdrops to Simon’s theatrical installation—which features a number of professional mourners—but integral elements to the performance and unique architectural objects.
They are 45 feet in height and create a sensation of being at the bottom of a well. In total, the eleven towers weigh 165,000 pounds. The odd number of wells was regulated by the artist’s preference to have a center point; they are arranged into an ellipse with a 44-foot radius. Each silo is composed of 8 stacked concrete rings that are 8 feet 10 inches in diameter. The wells, which have the appearance of massive Aldo Rossi memory towers, act as acoustic tunnels that echo sound upward and through the massive drill hall during a performance.
According to a press release, OMA conceptualized the structures as a collective that resembles an organ: each pipe is intended to be occupied by 1 to 3 performers and produce its own distinct sound (which ranges from purely oral to instrumental to distinct mourning rituals). A singular plinth/platform raises the concrete pipes 9 inches off the ground to distribute their structural load. Furthermore, each well has a ramp for attendees to enter as performances are taking place. A seating ledge for the performers—who are professional mourners—occupies a portion of each space. The silos were manufactured by Coastal Pipeline in Long Island and, while similar industrial pipes would be made of a 9-inch thick concrete, these are only 5 inches thick.
An Occupation of Loss is on view at the Park Avenue Armory through September 25, 2016. Mourners activate the installation each evening from Tuesday through Sunday for a series of 50-minute performances. During the daytime, visitors are free to wander and activate the sculpture to produce a cacophony of sound.