Oculi 2.0 to Open at Art Omi this Spring

view upward of the sky through large blue steel rings

At Art Omi, Oculi will be reconstructed with the original elevated blue-painted steel rings, but will be configured differently in response to the new site. photo / Zachary Tyler Newton (M.Arch. '10)

May 2, 2019

Oculi, a sculptural pavilion by architecture, art, and engineering faculty at Cornell, will move this spring from New York City to Art Omi, an art organization situated on 120 acres of land in Ghent, New York.

The pavilion was initially conceived of last year by assistant professor of architecture Aleksandr Mergold in collaboration with associate professor of art Maria Park, structural engineering professor Chris Earls, and spring 2018 architecture lecturer Scott Hughes. Their proposal was selected as a winning project for Figment NYC's 2018 City of Dreams sustainable art and design competition that takes place as part of a festival on Governors Island each year.

Oculi was installed in June 2018 at its original site on Governors Island as a cluster of seven galvanized steel rings, each 18 feet in diameter and raised to a height of eight feet from the ground on steel columns. According to the project description, the name of the work references the circular forms of the massive grain bins — remnants of the American agricultural industry, that were brought to the city from a farm in Ohio. Oculi's new configuration will open at Art Omi in May and will incorporate the original structures at the same scale, but in a modified arrangement that responds to the new context.

"The new site offers a return to a rural setting and a chance for us to test it on new ground, new terrain, and in a new configuration," says Mergold. "The original bins can be reconstructed again after all of this, as the panels are not modified. And, the current timeframe at Art Omi is ideal because it gives us time to find a sponsoring organization to help us build the 'house-in-a-can' prototypes for a sustainable housing project we've been working on as a potential next step for the use of the material."

Glenn Miller and Ben Malone of Miller Tilling are assisting with the construction of Oculi at Art Omi, as are the following AAP students:

  • Edward Aguilera-Pérez (M.Arch. '20)
  • Molly Ma (M.Arch. '20)
  • Cait McCarthy (M.Arch. '20)
  • Michael Paraszczak (M.Arch. '20)
  • Reuben Posada (M.Arch. '20)
  • Lawson Spencer (M.Arch. '20)
  • Jordan Young (M.Arch. '20)
  • Jeniffer Carmona (M.Arch. '21)
  • Adriana Contarino (M.Arch. '21)
  • Freddo Daneshvaran (M.Arch. '21)
  • Allexxus Farley-Thomas (M.Arch. '21)
  • Jahoon Kwon (M.Arch. '21)
  • Riana Tan (M.Arch. '21)
  • George Tsourounakis (M.Arch. '21)
  • Hyun-Ji Yang (M.Arch. '21)

Art Omi will host an opening event for Oculi on May 25 and the pavilion will be part of Art Omi's architecture and sculpture park for two years. Oculi joins 60 other artworks and structures on display at Art Omi, including Primitive Hut (2017) and Evitim (2018), both collaborative works by Associate Professor Caroline O'Donnell, the Edgar A. Tafel Professor of Architecture; and architecture's Assistant Professor of the Practice Martin Miller.

By Edith Fikes

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