Head in the Clouds: A New Place to Dream on Governors Island

Posted by Lesley Chang

Last summer the non-profit interactive art organization FIGMENT, the Emerging New York Architect Committee (ENYA), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY ) held a competition, asking the questions: “If we imagine a future New York City where anything is possible, what would it look like? How does a pavilion made entirely of recyclable materials take shape in the 'city of dreams'?” When my design and architecture firm, STUDIOKCA, read the competition brief, we latched onto the idea of a 'city of dreams', not because it conjured up Jetson-like tubes and flying cars (which are cool), but because we saw a future place where elements of anyone’s dreams could walk side by side with them in a future place.

Growing up in Taiwan around builders, I knew I wanted to be an architect from a young age and I always loved seeing ideas become three-dimensional. My partner Jason Klimoski had been building and designing lights and objects since he was a kid in Madison, Wisconsin. We met in school and worked for firms in the city and then on individual projects before combining our architecture and lighting design practices a few years ago. Setting up shop first in the living room of my apartment, then at a shared space downtown, and now in our own space in Brooklyn, we’ve already experienced a rich journey in New York City. 

A city of dreams needs dreamers, and those dreamers will need a place to put their head in the clouds to dream up great ideas. This is what became the inspiration behind our winning submission Head in the Clouds, a pavilion to be built this summer on Governors Island, New York.  

Made of 53,780 recycled water bottles (close to the amount thrown away in New York City within one hour), the pavilion is a space filled with light that visitors can enjoy outdoors.  Over the last six months, we and an army of volunteers have been steadily collecting recycled bottles from generous organizations, businesses, and individuals from throughout the city and beyond. We’ve even taken our recycling message back to schools, where university and grade school students have all helped to collect bottles that will eventually become Head in the Clouds.

From our successful fundraising campaign to our bottle collection effort, we are now beginning construction. We’ve encountered enthusiasm and excitement from all walks of life, including a passersby willing to volunteer that little bit of time to help make the pavilion a reality.

Join us and our volunteer team on the pavilion build April 27, 2013, on Neighborday. Take the time to meet your neighbors, friends, and volunteers, have a cup of coffee, and learn more with us at our studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn at 55 Washington Street, Suite 255. Email us for more details at headintheclouds@figmentproject.org. This summer we hope we can stand with you beneath the cloud, and dream with you in the city of dreams.

Photos courtesy of STUDIOKCA

This project was featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.

Hang out with your neighbors on the last Saturday of April (a day we're calling "Neighborday"). Click here to say you'll Do It, and here to download GOOD's Neighborday Toolkit and a bunch of other fun stuff