For reOrder, the first installation in the Brooklyn Museum’s Great Hall after a renovation by Ennead Architects, the design and fabrication collective Situ Studio transformed the room’s 24-foot-tall columns into 16 giant mushroom-looking canopies using 2,200 yards of fabric and a mile and a half of rope, swelling and expanding the profiles on the existing columns. Beneath the canopies are sheets of solid surfacing material that have been thermoformed into three-dimensional benches and tables.
The video above, “Transforming the Great Hall,” documents the installation process: affixing plywood rings to the columns (more than 3,000 parts in all); hanging 1,100 feet of bent steel tubing; and covering, folding, and stretching the fabric over the tubing, a process that took three weeks to complete. But Brad Samuels, one of Situ Studio’s partners, says that the video doesn’t show all the pre-built work that went into it, which is what the video below, “Making reOrder,” is about. The steel rings, solid surfacing formwork, and wooden brackets were all brought to the site pre-built.
The video also details the mockups and models that were created in the Situ Studio space. Samuels says that they only had a chance to do one mockup at a 1:1 scale, so they didn’t know how the materials would react when pushed further. “Most, if not all, of the columns that were eventually built exceeded, and sometimes by far, the parameters that we practiced,” he tells Co.Design.
And although the awe-inducing canopies get the most pub, it’s the thermoformed seating below them that gives the space its intimacy, especially when contrasted with the cavernous and colossal fabrics above. “We were interested in humanizing the scale of the space and creating moments of compression and release within the Great Hall,” Samuels says. “It was also a chance for us to experiment with a new material–something we always embrace.”
The solid surfacing was donated by LG Hausys America, and the canopies, using Sunbrella fabric, were donated by Glen Raven Custom Fabrics and will either be returned to the manufacturing facility for recycling or reused for future projects by Situ Studio once the installation wraps up on January 15.
Photographs courtesy of Keith Sirchio. Video by Situ Studio with Nathan Levine-Heaney and Jeffrey Blair.