New York-based Design Prize winner Snarkitecture, headed by partners Alex Mustonen, Daniel Arsham, and Ben Porto, has announced the March 2019 opening of their permanent exhibition space called Snark Park. Snarkitecture’s creation will be located in Hudson Yards, a multi-billion-dollar, large scale redevelopment programme aimed to expand Manhattan’s midtown business district west towards the Hudson River. Snark Park will offer gallery space and design environments focused on the immersive installations Snarkitecture has become synonymous with.
Snark Park will be the first permanent project for the design firm, which hopes to make design, art, and architecture more accessible for visitors through multi-disciplinary installations. Each year, the space will showcase three exhibitions by Snarkitecture known for their playful, interactive, and monochromatic experiences. Snark Park will be an incubator of sorts for Snarkitecture designs. According to Porto, Snark Park will be ‘a place where all these different magical things can happen.’ Moreover, Snark Park will be for all ages and encourage an irregular gallery experience. ‘We always like to bring a level to childlike wonder to our experiences. We want people to crawl in and touch it and experience it,’ continued Porto.
The 2019 opening follows a 2018 retrospective of Snarkitecture’s works, titled ‘Fun House’, which ran at DC’s National Building Museum between July and September. ‘Fun House’ celebrated Snarkitecture’s 10th anniversary and revisited a number of installations created by the firm. The exhibition included a scaled-down remake of The BEACH, a 2015 site-specific installation that Snarkitecture made for the National Building Museum’s Great Hall. Covering 10,000 square feet, The BEACH was the first ball pit installation of its kind. Visitors were invited to kick off their shoes and wade in the white plastic balls or lounge in white deck chairs on the pseudo-beach. ‘Fun House’ included a smaller kidney bean-shaped pool of balls for visitors to enjoy. Unlike ‘Fun House,’ the projects for Snark Park will be brand new.
Inevitably, some may find Snarkitecture’s designs to be nothing more than Instagram traps. However, the firm was at the forefront of the rising fad that, for the foreseeable future, is here to stay. The BEACH was the first ball pit museum experience that has become a staple in so called ‘Instagram museums.’ Since, ball pits have been the highlight of museums like the Museum of Ice Cream, which opened in New York in 2016, and San Francisco’s Colour Factory. Though targeting Instagram users is a controversial ploy, such installations have seriously revamped museum attendance.
Snarkitecture often differs from other Instagram worthy installations through their use of colour – or lack thereof. Working primarily in white and shades of grey, the firm says ‘the people become the color’ in their works. This naturally leads to a photography-friendly installation but according to Porto, the firm has thought this way long before Instagram and the selfie trend took over the masses.
In addition to the Snark Park, Hudson Yards will house Thomas Heatherwick’s Vessel which interweaves 154 steel flights of stairs to create an awe-inspiring and interactive centerpiece. Also, Diller + Renfro have designed the Shed, a cultural center for the sight that literally rolls out to make a large public space. Hudson Yards will also boast shops, restaurants, and retail spaces.