Sitting across the water from Roosevelt Island with views of the Manhattan skyline beyond, the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City is a welcome pocket of greenery on the banks of New York's East River. Now over 25 years old, the park has been showcasing artworks since it was transformed from five acres of abandoned landfill into an open studio and exhibition space in the 1980s. One of the park's more recent calendar highlights is its annual Folly Programme sponsored by the Architectural League of New York, which each year, since its introduction in 2012, has enabled an early career architect or designer to install a site specific pavilion within the Park's grounds that explores the boundaries between architecture and sculpture.
This year, the coveted commission fell to Mariana Ibañez and Simon Kim of Cambridge and Philadelphia-based firm IK Studio, whose proposal Torqueing Spheres was chosen from among 126 global submissions by a jury of five architects and artists including David Benjamin (The Living); Leslie Gill (Architect); Sheila Kennedy (Kennedy & Violich Architecture); Alyson Shotz (Artist); and Socrates Sculpture Park Executive Director John Hatfield.
Resembling a line of oversized geometric blooms, Torqueing Spheres sees a series of eight intertwining, half-domed forms of various scales join together to form a 28 x 20 ft meandering curved folly in the dappled light beneath the trees. Joined by hollow steel sections, the domes, made from decorative bent birch plywood, polyethylene and recycled wood with neoprene sleeves, the panels serve as deep self-supporting chambers in which visitors can stay a while and explore.