The awareness of gravity and our inescapable and constant relationship to it in the present fuels Elizabeth Streb’s avant-garde dance company and gives direction to our investigations of what makes a suitable home for this artist. Her physical choreography and extreme acrobatic dance tests the boundaries of movement, demonstrating her unwillingness to give in to gravity without a fight. Our work with Streb attempts to find architectural cognates using mobile architectural elements, such as seating and gantries and expressive joints, where the forces acting on and reacting to these elements are seen and heard.
The existing warehouse building in the gritty, arts-filled neighborhood of Williamsburg has a skin of brick and concrete block covering a skeletal steel armature, both exposed on the interior. A large warehouse door opens fully, making the lobby an extension of the sidewalk, inviting the interest and participation of the community.
The seating bank ‘flies’ into the air when not in use, and the means of its movement- the hinge, counterweight, and motor- are all made visible. With the bank seat raised, the previously frozen real estate, which every theater has below its seating, is used for the day program, a PopAction School for adults and kids. This dual use addresses the broad ambitions yet limited resources available to the dance company and attempts to define new insight in to the transience/ permanence of architectural elements.
In response to the client’s limited means, we have worked with them to develop a phased plan of implementation, starting with those elements crucial to occupy the building safely, gradually adding elements as funding becomes available. In this way, all present construction is coordinated to anticipate future work.
An exterior sign is made of letters that swing with the wind; the letter-face of the sign shimmers in the wind with reflective dots, reacting to air movements. Gravity, light, air: elements of life, of dance and of architecture.