Exhibition Design 

Queens Museum, NYC, Sep. 2017 - Feb. 2018

This exhibition hopes to reach people from every generation and every professional, geographical or cultural background. It engages visitors to think about New York and other cities around the globe and their possibilities. It shows that New York as we know it could have developed in many different ways. The vast material unearthed by the curators from over fifty archives, estates and active architecture offices is exhibited in three distinct museum spaces.

In the tall, narrow Rubin Gallery we present the historical plans and models from over two-hundred visions for the five boroughs. The floor plan of the blackout space has a similar shape to the island of Manhattan which inspired an exhibition layout according to the object’s geographic location. Models are placed throughout the room while the original drawings, renderings and facsimiles are seemingly floating in a salon style hanging on black walls. The arrangement references the density of Midtown Manhattan where there is stimulation and reflection all around. Within the space there are calmer places, such as a large green pedestal holding a replica of an alternative plan for Central Park allowing visitors to sit down, observe the show from a lower vantage point and browse through catalogs.

In the adjacent 1964 World’s Fair Panorama ghost-like glowing models are placed throughout the entire city in scale 1:1200, giving the viewers the opportunity to understand the dimension and impact the Never Built buildings would have had in the urban fabric. Seeing this installation from above emulates the Overview Effect, a cognitive shift astronauts often experience seeing the earth from outer-space.

In the bright atrium lobby space we show projects from the direct neighborhood of the Queens Museum. The central element is a bouncy castle version of the Eliot Noyes’ Westinghouse pavilion at 1:6 scale.

Our goal is to excite people in thinking about cities and show them that their ideas can make a difference. If some children and grown-ups walk out of the show deciding to engage with architects, urban planners, politicians, community organizers or activists, we'd be very happy.


Project Team: Christian Wassmann, Lauren Tucker, Joana Bem-Haja
Curators: Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell
Queens Museum: Larissa Harris, Lindsey Berfond, John Wanzel, Hitomi Iwasaki
Columbia GSAPP: Joshua Jordan, Director of Fabrication Lab and summer workshop
Virtual Reality: Craig Shimahara

Photography: Photos 1, 2 and 8 by Hai Zhang/Queens Museum

Never Built New York