2014 Recipient | AIA Small Project Awards

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Head in the Clouds Pavilion | Notes of Interest

The Head in the Clouds Pavilion on New York City’s Governors Island comes out of the desire to create a ‘place to dream in the city of dreams’. Made from 53,780 recycled plastic bottles - the amount, thrown away in New York City in 1 hour - it is a space where visitors can enter into and contemplate the light and color filtering through the ‘cloud’ from the inside, out.

A series of 'pillows' made from 1 gallon jugs form the exterior, while 16 and 24 ounce water bottles line the interior. A curved aluminum diagrid frame provides structural integrity and creates a small seating/dreaming area for 50 people at the base. Water bottles were filled with varying amounts of water and organic blue food coloring to provide ballast so that no foundation was needed.

More than 200 volunteers from the arts, architectural, and community at large helped build and assemble the pavilion. The team collected used empty plastic bottles from organizations, businesses, schools, and individuals throughout New York City and beyond, then repurposed the bottles to construct the pavilion.

All of the building components can be easily broken down and transported- including a collapsible aluminum diagrid frame- a simple way to provide the structural integrity without relying on heavy steel beams, or larger support systems. Rather than rely on high-tech fabrication techniques to turn the bottles and aluminum into cladding and structure, the design team created a simple, repetitive, cost-effective system of connections, in order to quickly and easily assemble this free, public structure.

Additional Credits

  • Sponsor: Figment, AIA New York ENYA, Structural Engineers Association of New York
    • Photo Credit: © Chuck Choi
      • Metal component fabrication: 4th State Metals

Head in the Clouds Pavilion

  • Architect: Jason Klimoski, AIA
  • Firm: StudioKCA
  • Location: New York City, New York

Jury Comments

A great way to engage the public, bring attention to an environmental issue and simultaneously raise awareness about design. An installation becomes a conversation piece. Aggregations of disposable objects transform artifacts of waste into a pop culture pavilion through the use of colored water and light. A poetic transformation of the commonplace object, that uses design to elucidate an important real world issue.

2014 AIA Small Project Awards Jury

  • Linda Reeder, AIA, Chair
  • Linda Reeder Architecture
  • New Haven, Connecticut
  • Deb Silber
  • Fine Homebuilding Magazine
  • Newtown, Connecticut
  • Rene Gonzalez, AIA
  • Rene Gonzalez Architect
  • Miami, Florida
  • Lisa Tilder, AIA
  • Ohio State University
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Craig Scott, AIA
  • IwamotoScott Architecture
  • San Francisco, California

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