It Still Takes Twelve Days: Landing Studio at City College

Image via City College and Landing Studio

The title of Landing Studio‘s exhibition opening this week at City College’s Spitzer School of Architecture comes from the seemingly unmodern fact that it still takes about twelve days to ship something across the Pacific from China to New York. Capitalist efficiency has yet to “solve” the significant time it takes to move goods across the world, which is surprising in a time of one-hour deliveries via Amazon Prime and an increasing public detachment from the processes that permit such logistical backflips.

It is this detachment that also allows the popular conception of New York City as a post-industrial space to thrive. The docks that once ringed Manhattan may rarely cater to shipping today, and complexes like Industry City are just as likely to serve a billion-dollar sports franchise than small manufacturing. But industry still exists here and dramatically affects the shape of the city and the very livelihoods and well-being of its residents.

As Landing Studio principals Marie Law Adams and Dan Adams note in their introductory text to the exhibition, “The operations of industry and its infrastructure are an active and living agent of the urban environment. … [W]e have never been in a post-industrial global state. Industrial infrastructure has just moved and shape-shifted to assume a different place and identity in the environment.”

These sites of intersection between industry and the city are the territory of Landing Studio’s work. Contrary to contemporary trends of “reclaiming” industrial sites or isolating existing industrial processes from the rest of city life, Landing Studio focuses on “developing design tactics for positively integrating active global industries and infrastructures into their local contexts” with particular emphasis on port facilities, ocean transport, and industrial ecologies. As Marie Law Adams described their interest in melding industrial landscapes with public space, “we think it’s just a lot more exciting to be playing basketball as an oil tanker passes by within feet.”

Beginning on September 24th and running through next April, It Still Takes Twelve Days provides a compelling view of how the Adams’ choreography of local-global, industry-city intersections plays out, all within the context of a custom-designed crate. In P.O.R.T. (Publicly Organized/Privately Owned, Recreation Territory), the pair partnered with workers from a salt dock terminal in Boston Harbor to transform a former waterfront asphalt and jet fuel facility within the terminal into a remediated park landscape, made particularly convincing by the salvage of the storage tanks for park elements. This dovetails with their Rock Chapel Marine project, which combines upgrades at the salt dock with a public access landscape that expands when salt operations go fallow in the summertime. And right here in New York, Landing Studio designed a temporary light festival with Staten Island Arts on the active Atlantic Salt dock, using salt as a medium, for the LUMEN film festival.

If you can’t make it out to the opening on the 24th to hear more from the Adamses in person, be sure to take in their lecture and interview recorded upon their receipt of The Architectural League Prize earlier this year. Also look out for more on UO regarding landscapes of salt from these two designers in the coming months.

Landing Studio: It Still Takes 12 Days
September 24 to April 15, 2016 (open Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM)
Opening Reception: September 24, 5-9PM
with a lecture by Marie Law Adams and Dan Adams at 6:30PM
Free admission
Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York
141 Convent Avenue (at 135th Street)

Jonathan Tarleton is a former editor of Urban Omnibus.