Public creativity crucial for cities, argues Urban Art Projects founder after Ai Weiwei collaboration in New York

Public art sparks conversations, activates communities, creates memories, celebrates different cultures, drives tourism and enables micro and macro economies
– Dan Tobin, founder, Urban Art Projects

One of the design team responsible for realising Ai Weiwei’s huge ‘security fence’

installations across New York has told CLADglobal the popularity of the project demonstrates why cities and developers would be “mad” not to commission creativity.

Dan Tobin, the founder of international creative design and delivery studio Urban Art Projects (UAP), said that boundary-pushing art “sparks conversations, activates communities, creates memories, celebrates different cultures, drives tourism and enables micro and macro economies”.

UAP collaborated with the Chinese artist on Good Fences Make Good Neighbors in New York – which opened in October 2017 and runs until February next year.

Partly backed by a successful crowdfunding campaign, the citywide public art exhibition is inspired by the international migration crisis and includes large-scale sculptures that depict the security fence as a social and artistic symbol.

Over 300 site-specific, freestanding works have been installed, including highly visible ones at the Washington Square Arch in Greenwich Village, the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Central Park.

The latter places an abstract, golden cage in a space where it is juxtaposed against one of the most visited urban public parks in the US.

UAP worked with multidisciplinary studio AECOM Tishman, architecture firm FXFOWLE, engineer Thornton Tomasetti and street furniture company JCDecaux to bring Ai’s larger visions to life.

“Delivering such a project in a compressed timeframe and on budget for one of the world’s most influential artists was a daunting task,” said Tobin. “Ai Weiwei and the Public Art Fund, who backed the project, had very high expectations and we also had to take into account the high-profile nature of the sites.

“There were certainly challenges. With teams scattered across three continents – the artist and his team based in Berlin, UAP’s design and project management team in New York and our fabrication team in Shanghai – late night and early morning video conferences were often a daily occurrence.”

He added that while “serious engineering” was required to create the structures and secure installation approvals from the city authorities, the result was worth the effort.

“Ai Weiwei was extremely pleased by how true to his creative intent the built forms are, which is immensely satisfying for us,” he said. “But being on-site post-installation and watching and listening to people as they talked about and explored the works has been the definite highlight for me.”

Despite receiving criticism from some local groups, including the Washington Square Association, for politicising pre-existing architecture and art, Ai’s installations have received critical acclaim and been a hit with the public.

Tobin told CLADglobal he would like to see more encouragement of public art to replicate the success of Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.

“Whether it’s London’s Fourth Plinth, Christo’s Floating Piers on Lake Iseo in Italy, or indeed Ai Weiwei’s work, public commissions do it all,” he said.

UAP are currently collaborating with a number of other artists in the US, including Erwin Redl, who has just created a network of suspended lighted orbs in Madison Square Park, and French duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, who are installing a series of sculptural shade structures in the streets of Miami.

Ai Weiwei  New York  public art  design  UAP  Dan Tobin  Good Fences Make Good Neighbors 
Related stories

Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac-inspired animal sculptures to show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Ai Weiwei's magical and mythological bamboo kites go on display in Paris department store

Ai Weiwei unveils art exhibition at Alcatraz prison

London's Serpentine Gallery opens ESPA-sponsored Pavilion

One of the design team responsible for realising Ai Weiwei’s huge ‘security fence’ installations across New York has told CLADglobal the popularity of the project demonstrates why cities and developers would be “mad” not to commission creativity. Dan Tobin, the founder of international creative design and delivery studio Urban Art Projects (UAP), said that boundary-pushing art “sparks conversations, activates communities, creates memories, celebrates different cultures, drives tourism and enables micro
CLD,VAT,AAC,ARC,DES,PHR
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors by Ai Weiwei launched in New York in October 2017 and runs until February next year
 / Jason Wyche
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6273     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6273     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Barr + Wray Ltd
Founded in 1959, Barr + Wray is recognised as a world-leading provider of spa design, engineering and pool+ spa equipment.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Facilities include a cardio fitness floor
DMAC’s Dwayne MacEwen
"The hotel concept came late in the game, but it was an inspired idea"

The newly renovated Chicago Midtown Athletic Club features a boutique hotel, a pool-come-ice rink and spaces designed by Venus Williams

The Smile represented an opportunity to make experimental design accessible, says Brooks
Alison Brooks
"The profession is changing"

We need to help the public understand that architects are on their side, argues The Smile designer

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
West 8 has masterplanned a new botanical garden for Houston, with a range of gardens and amenities
Adriaan Geuze
"The profile of landscape architecture has been raised by international cities competing with one another"

How the West 8 founder is using the healing power of nature on a Korean site with a turbulent history

FS Shanghai at Pudong
Ed Ng
"Of all hospitality design, we feel that F&B is the most fun. You can be creative and it’s where you get all the limelight"

When ABConcept’s co-founder got The brief for the Four Seasons’ Mei Ume restaurant, he jumped straight on the plane to London. He tells us why

At the Tsingpu Yangzhou Retreat, reclaimed brick walls create multiple courtyard enclosures
Rossana Hu studied at the University of California at Berkeley, where she met Lyndon Neri
"Interior projects carried out by architects have a depth that’s generally lacking today"

Neri & Hu’s latest project

features
Lund has worked as a designer for Soho House since 2014. She co-led the design of The Ned
"My favourite part of the building is the original bank vault, in the belly of the building. It once stored gold bullion deposits of £335m"

On the challenges of creating The Ned

The stainless steel façade reflects the changing lighting conditions
"Whenever you’re looking at it, the elevation is running away from you, so it never looks quite as big as it really is "

FaulknerBrowns’ Dutch sports facility

The Fangshan Tangshan Museum
Decq has been recognised for raising the profile of women in architecture
"Things have improved, but not enough"

On women in architecture

cladkit product news
London's new pollution-eating living wall has air purifying power of 275 trees
CityTree is a living wall that reduces particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air by 30 per cent
Lauren Heath-Jones
The Crown Estate, a London-based commercial real estate company, has partnered with Westminster City Council and cleantech specialist Evergen Systems ...
Empex Watertoys partners with Singapore architecture firm on new splash park
Buds is a new splash park that caters to children aged 12 and under
Lauren Heath-Jones
Empex Watertoys has partnered with Singapore landscape architecture firm Playpoint Singapore Pte to create Buds, an exciting new splash park ...
FAÇADE2017 winners 'diverse and remarkable', says SFE board member
Ramboll was awarded for the Blavatnik Building, Switchouse Extension of the Tate Moder
Lauren Heath-Jones
A trio of British leisure facilities have been honoured in the Façade2017 awards. Established in 2013 by the Society of ...
cladkit product news
Kvorning wins contest to design aquaculture exhibit at Norway's Coastal Museum
The exhibition explores the history of Norway's fish-farming industry dating back to 1970
Lauren Heath-Jones
Copenhagen-based design studio Kvorning Design and Norwegian advertising agency Vindfang have won a competition, organised by Museums in Sør Trøndelag ...
Ben van Berkel launches UNSense startup to boost health and wellbeing in built environments
Kim Megson
Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and his design firm UNStudio have launched a tech startup to “improve the health and ...
Dornbracht debuts Rainmoon wellness shower concept at  Salone del Mobile
Rainmoon is a multi-sensory wellness experience designed to revitalise and reinvigorate the user
Lauren Heath-Jones
Dornbracht, a German-based luxury bathroom specialist, has launched an innovative new shower experience, Rainmoon. Slated as the next generation of ...
cladkit product news
AB Concept partners with House of Tai Ping for luxurious rug collection
The collection was inspired by the idea of looking down at the world from a great height
Lauren Heath-Jones
Design house AB Concept has partnered with bespoke rug specialist Tai Ping to create Nephele, an exclusive line of handcrafted ...
Hotel Crescent Court opens new spa following multi-million-dollar renovation
Hotel Crescent Court has reopened its spa after a multi-million dollar refurbishment
Lauren Heath-Jones
Hotel Crescent Court, a luxury hotel in Dallas, Texas, has reopened its spa and fitness centre after completing a multi-million-dollar ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates