The Omnibus Roundup – Printed Solar, Pop-Up Chapel, MTA, Public Summer, Aerialist Antics and Brooklyn Breweries

Paper solar panels | Image via MIT/Patrick Gillooly

Solar energy has long been touted as a solution to our unending thirst for cheap energy, but traditional panels have always been difficult and expensive to construct and install. Worse yet, they tend to be ugly. Researchers at MIT have now come up with a way to print solar cells on paper, fabric or plastic, with a process that is easy, cheap and brimming with design potential. Akin to the silver coating inside potato chip bags, the printed cells have impressive endurance, retaining much of their structural integrity in the face of heat and wear. The efficiency of the paper units are still only at 1% (enough to power a small gadget) but the lightweight, printable cells have endless possibilities for practical application.

Pop Up Chapel, Architizer and The Knot have teamed up to celebrate last month’s historic passage of marriage equality legislation in New York. On July 30, the first weekend after the law takes effect, Pop Up Chapel will host an all-day wedding ceremony in a NYC park. They will provide officiants, photographers, witnesses and wedding cupcakes. What they need now is a wedding chapel. Architizer and have launched a design competition to create two temporary structures — pop up chapels — for all that nuptial bliss. Submit your designs by July 21st. Read the competition brief here, and visit for news and updates.

New York City has used and maintained the same subway system for over a hundred years. MTA repairs have traditionally been done on the weekends, when ridership was at its lightest. But today, the MTA is faced with the heaviest weekend ridership in decades, partially due due to an overall rise in ridership stemming from the unlimited Metrocard, lower crime rates and newer cars. But this increased demand for weekend and late night access to trains is also indicative of changing work patterns as the city turns more towards a service economy and a work week that no longer excludes the weekend. Of course, increased use means heightened frustrations when service is suspended or rerouted. But when can the MTA complete repairs and renovations if not on nights and weekends? Read more about this conundrum in The New York Times.

Seanna Sharpe performing on Williamsburg Bridge | photo by Flickr user several seconds

On Monday night, aerialist Seanna Sharpe took to the skies, or rather to the upper reaches of the Williamsburg Bridge, for a 15-minute, mid-air performance without safety harnesses of any kind. Sharpe claimed no allegiance to larger political or social movements, but was motivated instead by a wish to “face [her own] fear and to inspire others to face their fears.” Claiming that she chose the Williamsburg Bridge because she would be obscured from the sight of drivers below, and thus would be less likely to cause traffic accidents, Sharpe was surprised to be hit with felony reckless endangerment charges that could leave her with seven years in jail. Read more on this from The Wall Street Journal and watch video of the event here.


Weightless Pull, Public Summer 2011 | Image via SUPERFRONT

PUBLIC SUMMER 2011: This Sunday, July 17th from 3—6pm, make your way out to Sunset Park to see SUPERFRONT’s Public Summer installation, designed by architectural duo CO (Christina Ciardullo and Naomi Ocko). The installation will occur between two warehouse buildings hosting public art and performance all summer (July 23rd — August 28th) at 2nd Ave between 35th and 36th Streets in Brooklyn. See more info here.

FROM SHOETOWN TO BREWTOWN: On July 19th, Shoe Town to Brew Town: Craft Brewing Meets Green Development, will be held from 7:30-10:00pm at the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg. Over food and drink, Paul Mankiewicz of the Gaia Institute will lead a discussion on how breweries can be the centerpiece of a sustainable regional development plan. Tickets are $40, buy them here.

PUBLIC SPACE POTLUCK: The Design Trust for Public Space is hosting their next Public Space Potluck at West Harlem Piers Park on Wednesday, July 20. A former parking lot, this 2-acre site was transformed into a waterfront oasis in 2009, bringing new open space to West Harlem and providing the final link in the Hudson River greenway. The group will meet at Fountain Plaza at 131st Street. RSVP via Facebook or

MTA APP CHALLENGE: Want to improve your subway ride in a meaningful way? The MTA and Challengepost have just announced a new competition for programmers and designers to create apps that improve travel experience and give the public more and easier access to information. The submission period ends September 24th, so check out for more information about the competition, or read more of the coverage at 2nd Ave. Sagas.

MTA App Quest Competition | Image courtesy of MTA/Patrick Cashin

The Roundup keeps you up to date with topics we’ve featured and other things we think are worth knowing about.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.