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Architecture exhibition re-evaluates history

Posted on October 18, 2012 | by Alyssa Noud

To witness the exhibition “Past Futures, Present, Futures” in action, visitors to the Storefront for Art and Architecture gallery need only walk by.

The interactive installation is a presentation of the last 200 years of the architectural proposals in New York City. Using the designs of invited architects and artists, the exhibition seeks to recreate some of Manhattan’s unrealized architectural projects and provide an alternative idea of the city’s future.

Artists, architects, writers and policy-makers have re-enacted 101 design proposals for the city to create a depiction of what the architectural future could have been. Past proposals will be on display between Oct. 6 and Oct. 26. Beginning Oct. 26, the exhibit will add re-enactments of the past projects. By the end of the exhibition, a total of 202 architectural designs will be on display. Because the original projects never materialized, the artists and architects are free to reimagine a utopian space and time for their reconstructions.

“The exhibition is a machine to create the desire for a better future,” said Eva French, curator for the exhibition. “It pushes the boundaries of technology, legibility and materiality to create a totally new experience about what it is to go into a historical exhibition and what one takes from it.”

The gallery features sensorial spaces, or makeshift rooms where television screens project images of the futuristic architectural designs. The rooms include mirrored blinds, each dedicated to a year in the past. When flipped over, the panels reveal contextual information about New York, Western culture and the world in relation to the year on the panel.

There is no predetermined order to the unveiling of the panels so visitors witness the projects, along with the expression of time, in a disruptive manner. “Past Futures” is not static — it is constantly growing as time passes.

“The contextual information and the images that the architects produced for the text are somehow related to a certain time and shows that this time is not exactly linear, but rather juxtaposed,” Minguez-Carrasco said.

To truly grasp the concept of the exhibition, Minguez-Carrasco recommends that viewers stay for at least one hour. It is not until viewing the exhibition in full that one can begin to make connections between the past, present and future. The idea is for each individual to create their own way of understanding the utopian desires of each project and create their own context for understanding a redefined history.

“[The exhibition] was really different and unique,” said Stern freshman Yana Sinkevich. “The design and technology made it captivating in a way and made me feel like I was transported to the future where these projects were real.”

“Past Futures, Present, Futures” is on display at Storefront for Art and Architecture, 97 Kenmare St., through Nov. 24.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 18 print edition. Alyssa Noud is a staff writer. Email her at 


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