Every year the Architectural League of New York puts on the Beaux Arts Ball, and in 2012 SOFTlab was invited to design the environment and create a large-scale installation for the event, held in the Williamsburgh Savings Bank in Brooklyn. We chose the theme “Tender” for its linguistic versatility as a noun, verb and adjective. The existing bank hall is quite extraordinary with a 63-foot-high vaulted ceiling and subdivided patron and teller zones, so we sought to condense the space to create a more intimate party atmosphere. We designed a net filled with mylar balloon “pillows” over the main gathering space and dance floor. From the entrance the suspended balloons appeared very solid, but as visitors moved through the space intentional voids gave glimpses of the ornate ceiling above. The pillowed surface also drew visitors up to the main mezzanine granting a completely different view of the piece from above. To create an exchange among the visitors we worked with Natasha Jen from Pentagram to create a field of hanging tickets, each of which contained a graphic time code on one side and an iridescent material on the other that changed as the tickets naturally rotated. The tickets allowed admittance to a sound installation in the basement vault created by David Rife of Arup, where we designed linked seating elements of nylon net filled with shredded paper. The reflective surfaces of the pillows and tickets created both a canopy and a cloud, constantly changing in response to the cool blue lighting and the interaction from the visitors.
Design Team: Michael Szivos, Ben Halpern, Carrie McKnelly, Liz Kelsey, Lindsey May
Graphic Design: Natasha Jen of Pentagram
Sound Installation: David Rife of Arup