First Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, August 8, 2011

BMW Guggenheim Lab Opens In New York

Photo by Daniel Avila

The BMW Guggenheim Lab launched its nine-city worldwide tour in Manhattan's East Village and is view now through October 16, 2011. An opening ceremony was held on Tuesday, August 2. A combination of think tank, public forum, and community center, the BMW Guggenheim Lab offers free programs that explore the challenges of today's cities within a mobile structure that was designed to house this urban experiment. Over the next six years, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will go through three successive cycles, each with its own theme and specially designed mobile structure.

The inaugural BMW Guggenheim Lab is located on a Parks owned property on Houston Street at 2nd Avenue. A diverse range of more than 100 programs will address the theme for the BMW Guggenheim Lab's first cycle, Confronting Comfort, exploring how urban environments can be made more responsive to people's needs, how a balance can be found between notions of individual versus collective comfort, and how the urgent need for environmental and social responsibility can be met. Programs include Urbanology, a large-scale interactive group game that can be played both on-site and online, as well as workshops, experiments, discussions, screenings, and off-site tours.

The BMW Guggenheim Lab website and blog at offer a global audience a variety of ways to participate in this multidisciplinary urban project. Activities at the BMW Guggenheim Lab will be reported on through the blog, which will also feature posts by notable guest writers and regular interviews with the BMW Guggenheim Lab's collaborators. Participants role-play scenarios for city transformation and become advocates for education, housing, health care, sustainability, infrastructure, and mobility as they build a city that matches their specific needs and values. The game experience for Urbanology was developed by Local Projects, and the physical design was created by ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles]. Members of the public are invited to join the BMW Guggenheim Lab's dedicated social communities on Twitter (@BMWGuggLab, use hashtag #BGLab), Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Foursquare.

"New York City has long been an urban laboratory for new ideas and innovative enterprises, so we are pleased to host the inaugural BMW Guggenheim Lab experiment," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "This creative project provides an important opportunity for New Yorkers to connect and share ideas, and we look forward to the conversations that will take place when the Lab travels around the world."

"The Guggenheim is taking its commitment to education, scholarship, and design innovation one step further. We're taking it on the road. From New York to Berlin to Mumbai and beyond, we will address the enormously important issues our major cities are facing today and engage others along the way. We sincerely thank BMW for collaborating with us on this worthy endeavor," stated Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.

"As a company, we like to take action," said Harald Kruger, Member of the Board of Management BMW AG. "We are interested in fostering an open dialogue about the challenges ahead for all of us. The world premiere of the global, six-year BMW Guggenheim Lab initiative is a true milestone for BMW, building upon our experience in both sustainability and cultural engagement. We are thrilled to support a multidisciplinary platform for forward-looking ideas and new solutions for megacities. With a great collaborator like the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, we are confident the BMW Guggenheim Lab will thrive."


On Tuesday, August 9 at 6:30 PM, Commissioner Benepe will participate in a forum sponsored by the Museum of the City of New York. They have made 20 free tickets available for Parkies on a first come, first served basis. If you are interested in participating in this forum, please email

Whose Park Is It? Financing and Administering New York's New Parks

In the past 20 years New York City has expanded its acclaimed public park system. Recent additions, such as the Hudson River Park, the Highline, and Brooklyn Bridge Park represent a new generation of park design as well as financing and administration. In an era of budget cuts and declining revenues, how is the city paying for its new parks? How does new park administration differ from the past? What role does private funding play in the administration of the city's parks? What makes a successful park in today's New York? Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe; Alexander Garvin, Professor of Urban Planning, Yale University; Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of the City Parks Alliance; and Alyson Beha, Director of Research, Planning & Programs, New Yorkers for Parks discuss the past, present, and future of New York's public parks.

Presented as part of the ongoing Urban Forum series New York Infrastructure.


“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Marcel Proust
(1871 – 1922)

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