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Socrates Folly: First Steps

Queens, NY, USA • 2012

First Steps takes the form of a lushly vegetated spiral staircase perched adjacent to the park’s shoreline path.

First Steps takes the form of a lushly vegetated spiral staircase perched adjacent to the park’s shoreline path. Reaching down to the water’s surface and up to a height of nine feet above the ground, the folly encourages visitors to experience Socrates Sculpture Park’s unique post-industrial waterfront edge, while also functioning as an experiential open-loop bioremediation system. Designed so that the middle point of the stair is at the existing opening in the park fence, visitors are encouraged to enter and walk either up or down between the vegetation growing through each tread. A constant stream of water begins as a gentle rain above the top step and flows into trays and open channels below the treads before culminating in a cascade from the lowest step back down into the river. The folly conceives of sculpture as a physical architectural entity but also as process. The complete bioremediation of the East River would be an absurd goal – a literal folly – but by actualizing the revitalizing process at a human scale the folly builds awareness and pursues an expanded sculptural aesthetic.

First Steps takes the form of a lushly vegetated spiral staircase perched adjacent to the park’s shoreline path. Reaching down to the water’s surface and up to a height of nine feet above the ground, the folly encourages visitors to experience Socrates Sculpture Park’s unique post-industrial waterfront edge, while also functioning as an experiential open-loop bioremediation system. Designed so that the middle point of the stair is at the existing opening in the park fence, visitors are encouraged to enter and walk either up or down between the vegetation growing through each tread. A constant stream of water begins as a gentle rain above the top step and flows into trays and open channels below the treads before culminating in a cascade from the lowest step back down into the river. The folly conceives of sculpture as a physical architectural entity but also as process. The complete bioremediation of the East River would be an absurd goal – a literal folly – but by actualizing the revitalizing process at a human scale the folly builds awareness and pursues an expanded sculptural aesthetic.

DESIGN TEAM

Jordan Parnass, Sean Karns, Anthony Moon


First Steps takes the form of a lushly vegetated spiral staircase perched adjacent to the park’s shoreline path. Reaching down to the water’s surface and up to a height of nine feet above the ground, the folly encourages visitors to experience Socrates Sculpture Park’s unique post-industrial waterfront edge, while also functioning as an experiential open-loop bioremediation system. Designed so that the middle point of the stair is at the existing opening in the park fence, visitors are encouraged to enter and walk either up or down between the vegetation growing through each tread. A constant stream of water begins as a gentle rain above the top step and flows into trays and open channels below the treads before culminating in a cascade from the lowest step back down into the river. The folly conceives of sculpture as a physical architectural entity but also as process. The complete bioremediation of the East River would be an absurd goal – a literal folly – but by actualizing the revitalizing process at a human scale the folly builds awareness and pursues an expanded sculptural aesthetic.

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