This Month at the BMW Guggenheim Lab

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BMW Guggenheim Lab

Since the opening of the BMW Guggenheim Lab on August 3, more than 20,000 people have participated in its free programs centering on improving city life. See for yourself what the Lab has in store over the next month, with events that include talks by experts in urban planning and design to film screenings and interactive games.

Beginning September 9, Lab Team member Omar Freilla, an environmental justice activist, cooperative developer, and founder and coordinator of Green Worker Cooperatives, will delve into issues surrounding his work. Highlights include First Street Green Day, a discussion of what will become of the lot that the Lab currently calls its temporary home; a yoga workshop with Sharon Gannon and David Life, cocreators of Jivamukti Yoga; the launch of city-wide Urban Design Week; and a Media & Storytelling workshop.

But you don’t have to be in New York to participate in two of the newest features of the BMW Guggenheim Lab. In Urbanology, an interactive installation at the Lab and online, participants role-play scenarios for city transformation and become an advocate for issues such as education, housing, health care, infrastructure, and mobility. Also be sure to check out Lablog, our new blog, which extends the thought-provoking conversation surrounding the Lab’s programming beyond the physical site of the Lab and into the global digital realm, encouraging users to share their own ideas. Our resident blogger, Christine McLaren, posts weekly on issues surrounding the Lab and also the interdependence of our city fabric with various shifting social, environmental, and economic climates. Follow us on Twitter, @BMWGuggLab, and find us on Facebook for Christine’s Lablog updates and all of the latest information about the Lab.

The Lab’s First Weeks
The first segment of the programming was led by Lab Team member ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles], a Rotterdam-based architecture firm. ZUS’s talks centered on issues of architecture, urbanism, and landscape design. Paired with their discussions, other programs included a talk by renowned designer and Lab Advisor Elizabeth Diller, founding principal of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, who discussed her firm’s work, with insights into the wildly successful High Line park. Other programming included a presentation on the design of the Lab by architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow, a “found sounds” workshop, and an ongoing meditation series.

Lab Team member Olatunbosun Obayomi, a microbiologist, inventor, and TED Fellow from Lagos, Nigeria, headed the second segment of Lab activities. Obayomi’s work focuses on wastewater management and examines the behind-the-scenes systems that make a city function. Other speakers included Hans Venhuizen, who spoke on the making of a large group game that collected the opinions, wishes, initiatives, and interventions based on planning questions around the world and Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and owner of Prune restaurant in New York’s East Village. Visitors also enjoyed David Simon’s discussion of his critically acclaimed television series The Wire (2002–08) and Treme (2010–), and how they relate to cities today.

As the East Coast braced for tropical storm Irene, the Lab postponed its programming over the weekend of August 27 and 28. The Lab’s operations team prepared the space prior to the storm, lowering the mesh cover on the sides of the structure; removing, wrapping, and securing all audio-visual equipment; removing screens from the ends of the structure; and lowering and covering the furniture containers usually hoisted in the second story of the Lab. The planning and hard work paid off: the Lab weathered the storm without incident and reopened for its planned programming on August 31.

BMW Guggenheim Lab, New York City. Design architect: Atelier Bow-Wow. Interior view showing the interactive installation Urbanology. Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York