Designed by New York’s Local Projects and international design-build firm Urban Art Projects (UAP), the Pop Art rendering of a flat button ready to be sewn onto a King Kong–sized shirt replaces the original Big Button sculpture designed by James Biber and an information kiosk from the 1970s on Seventh Avenue at 39th Street. Unlike most loose buttons, this one is hard to miss: At 28 feet tall and 15 feet wide, the yellow aluminum button and its 32-foot-long stainless steel needle dominate the corner in the historical heart of the district.
The installation was sponsored by the Garment District Alliance (GDA), the neighborhood’s business improvement district.
“We’re thrilled to unveil the newly designed Big Button sculpture, which sits prominently in the heart of our neighborhood and serves as a welcoming symbol of the Garment District for New Yorkers and visitors,” said Barbara A. Blair, president of GDA, in a news release. “This is a significant moment for the Garment District, and I’m so proud to celebrate this incredible public art installation with the community and the individuals who helped bring this new vision to life.”
In 2017, GDA hired the experiential designers at Local Projects to come up with a new hub in consultation with industry professionals, building owners, and the City of New York. The stakeholders concluded that a new kiosk was unnecessary, but the Big Button needed to stay. The information booth was taken down to make way for Big Button 2.0. The team thought it could reuse the existing sculpture, but it wasn’t in great shape, so they crafted one in new materials and replaced its black hue with a shade of bright yellow, that draws from the graphics of the nearby NQRW subway lines.
“We want to encourage visitors to pause and be curious about the history of the neighborhood, so the new design contains nods to the district’s past, present and future. The magical thread draws its strength from the passion and ingenuity that form the fabric of our great city. The button’s yellow is a nod to today’s NQRW subway lines, honoring the old BMT line that brought workers to the Garment District from Brooklyn and Queens,” said Nathan Adkisson, creative director at Local Projects.