An artist's rendition of the proposed Oculi structure.

Courtesy of Austin+Mergold via Cornell

An artist's rendition of the proposed Oculi structure.

March 1, 2018

Cornell Professors Win Contest to Design Pavilion in NYC

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Four Cornell professors teamed up to create a winning proposal for New York City’s 2018 City of Dreams Pavilion. Their innovative design, Oculi, will be installed on Governor’s Island this summer.

According to the call for submissions, the Pavilion is a gathering and performance space constructed each year that allows visitors to experience the art and history of the island. This year, the competition asked entrants to consider the problem of limited natural and economic resources.

Oculi will feature nine elevated rings constructed from abandoned grain bins. After deinstallation, the structures can be repurposed once again for a housing project.

“Sustainability was an important motivating factor in the selection of grain bins,” said Prof. Chris Earls, civil and environmental engineering.

Earls focused on the safety and practicality of the design. He worked on the team with Prof. Aleksander Mergold, architecture, who led the team; Prof. Maria Park, art; and visiting lecturer Scott Hughes, architecture.

Park found inspiration for the coloration of Oculi in the skylines of San Francisco. The open structure will result in an interplay of shadows, color and the sky. The team hoped the pavilion would help visitors make the transition from an urban setting to the park-like island.

“Viewers might move from one to the next in anticipation of finding themselves under one that matched the color of a particular day or time,” Park said. “Oculi’s design allows a multiperspectival approach to the shifting of focus.”