FILTER, a pop-up place of respite fabricated from steel and timber, lands in Times Square for NYCxDesign

West Meets East

FILTER, a pop-up place of respite fabricated from steel and timber, lands in Times Square for NYCxDesign

Just in time for the tenth-anniversary edition of NYCxDesign festival, a fleeting taste of design from America’s least-populated state has been erected in the touristic heart of its most-populated city in the form of an ellipsoid pavilion functioning as an urban sanctuary. Fabricated from naturally weathered steel and wood, the temporary Times Square installation’s rough-hewn materiality and rugged form is meant to evoke the landscape of the American West. Dubbed FILTER, the pavilion is envisioned as an urban “chapel” where passersby can step inside and, if even just for a moment, slip away from the sustained commotion and pulsing lights for moments of introspection..

Commissioned by Design Pavilion, a public design exhibition of experiential installations coinciding with the 10-day run of NYCxDesign, the ephemeral work—now on view through May 15 between 46th and 47th Streets—was designed by Jackson Hole, Wyoming- and Bozeman, Montana-based multidisciplinary design studio CLB Architects. Eric Logan, partner at CLB Architects, described FILTER as “an offering, it changes the environment and creates its own.” Previous temporary installations designed by CLB Architects and profiled by AN include Undercurrent, a luminous augmented reality installation designed for the 2020/2021 edition of Jackson Hole’s annual Glownights public art exhibition.

FILTER isn’t just for moments of quiet(er) contemplation. (Leonid Furmansky)

FILTER’s “design facilitates a new understanding of place, providing each occupant the chance to explore their own relationship with the natural world,” elaborated the firm in a press release. Visitors enter the monumental interactive work via a gently sloping wooden ramp encircling its perimeter; after passing through a gap in the pavilion’s circular assemblage of large, folded steel plates, they can stand or take a seat on a segmented bench structure crafted from fir offcuts that rings the interior. Anchoring the interior of the pavilion is a lone, 20-foot-tall Exclamation Plane tree that, per FILTER’s designers, “embodies the ecological cycles and serves as a counterpoint to the Manhattan’s urbanity.”

“The tree’s dense canopy only partially obscures the sky beyond, inviting occupants to look upward and lose themselves in contemplation,” the firm added.

Wyoming-based EMIT Technologies led the steel prefabrication of the structure and served as its patron. Following its run in Times Square, FILTER will be dissembled and reconstructed on the grounds of EMIT’s headquarters in Montana-abutting Sheridan County.

“When it completes its cycle and reaches its final resting point in Sheridan, FILTER’s patina will reflect the accumulations of both dry western air and East Coast salinity,” wrote the firm. “Forging connections across geography and intimately centered on occupant experience, FILTER makes a place of its own.”

a sculptural steel pavilion in times Square
FILTER offers an escape from the cacophony of the Crossroads of the World. (Leonid Furmansky)

Other FILTER collaborators include Utah-based architectural lighting design firm Helius and British Columbia-based Spearhead, which crafted the pavilion’s “light-charred and textured’ timber elements using salvaged glulam beams. Brooklyn-based general contractor Dowbuilt assembled FILTER after the installation was first test assembled in Colorado before being disassembled and then shipped to New York.

Unlike the pavilion itself, its centerpiece tree, donated by a farm in Maryland, isn’t headed west; following the conclusion of Design Pavilion’s fifth edition on May 15, it will be donated to the Battery Park Conservancy for replanting.

Information on other Design Pavilion installations, including works designed by student teams from Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts now on view in Times Square and other locales, can be found here.