The Babel Blocks have made their Delancey Street debut. Today Lower East Side designers Constantin Boym and Laurene Boym are installing a 400 foot frieze on the fence bordering the public parking lots stretching from Norfolk to Clinton streets.
Last year, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District selected a proposal from Boym Partners, after soliciting entries in a neighborhood-wide design competition. The BID has a contract to manage the Delancey Street Plaza. The parking lots are, of course, part of the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, which will soon morph into the Essex Crossing mixed-use development project.
Babel Blocks, originally a series of wood figures, were created by the Boyms in 2007. The figures were loosely based on their Lower East Side neighbors. The project was included in “Design & the Elastic Mind,” an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and won the National Design Award in 2009. The new iteration is meant to be a “modern take” on “It’s a Small World,” the Disney amusement ride (Laurene has vivid memories from a childhood trip to Disneyland in which she marveled at all of the multi-cultural characters represented). Through the temporary installation, they wanted to send “a positive message about the surrounding communities’ incredible diversity – historically as well as today.”
We’ll have more when they’re finished with the installation.