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A Construction Wrap Grows in Manhattan

Avant-garde design embellishes construction, touts Whitney Museum

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NYC’s Meatpacking District, a Manhattan neighborhood that stretches east from the Hudson River to Hudson St. and north to West 14th St., has diverged far from its original incarnation. As the name would suggest, more than 250 slaughterhouses existed in the neighborhood at the start of the 20th Century; at the dawn of the 21st, there were less than 50. In their place, numerous old, brick buildings have been repurposed into shopping boutiques, restaurants and hotels.

And, this being the Big Apple, art galleries abound in the area. For a multi-story building with upscale condos being constructed at 14th St. and 7th Ave., appropriately, during the building process, an artistic wrap enveloped the building’s framework. DDG Partners, a NYC-based, real-estate development and management firm entrusted with shepherding the construction process, hired Big Apple Visual Group (Long Island City, NY) to develop a wrap to cover the 12-story building. Apple Visual’s Adam Sturm said the company received a notice through its website, and prevailed in a competitive-bid process.

“Five years ago, wraps weren’t at all a part of our business model,” he said. “Now, they represent up to 10% of our business. It’s a powerful way to convey a wide array of messages.”

Through the Whitney Museum of Art (founded in 1931 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney with her private art collection), which is located in upper Manhattan, DDG arranged for Yayoi Kusama, a provocative Japanese performance artist and sculptor who lived in Greenwich Village from the late ’50s through the early ’70s, to develop the artwork. A retrospective of her work, which focuses on psychedelic colors and repetitive patterns, was on display at the Whitney during construction. The artwork, titled “Yellow Trees”, features a labyrinthine aggregation of black and yellow tubes that resemble intertwined tree roots (or snakes, depending on one’s perspective). According to www.phaidon.com, the building site was also where Kusama acted out her first performance-art piece in 1966.

The project encompasses more than 40,000 sq. ft.; because of its sheer size, Strum said a mesh media was the only logical choice. The prints were generated in 16-ft.-long sections on an EFI-VUTEk 5300 grand-format, solvent-ink printer, and the pieces were radio-frequency-welded together. Once assembled, the wrap measured 150 x 200 ft. on the sides, and 150 x 75 ft. on the street- and rear-facing sections. They were tied to the site’s scaffolding – and provide a much more appealing streetscape than construction.
“They client was very demanding with the color, texture and placement of the wrap,” Sturm said. “But, this was a very high-profile installation in an affluent, trendy area, so high standards are the norm.”
 

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