Parsons Partners to open two collaborative design projects on Governors Island

Pro Bono Design-Build Projects Highlight the Leading Art and Design School's Commitment to Civic Engagement. Ribbon cutting for both projects on September 20.


 The Pagganuck Pavilion, a solar shading device created by Parsons Design Workshop students on Governors Island.

New York, September 13, 2019 - On Friday, September 20th, Parsons School of Design is officially opening two collaborative design projects, Pagganuck and the Lab at Urban Farm, on Governors Island. The opening celebrates the culmination of a two-year partnership with The Trust for Governors Island (The Trust), and twenty years of the signature Design Workshop program at Parsons, which provides pro bono architectural and construction services to nonprofit organizations while giving second-year Master of Architecture students the rare opportunity to both design and build a community facility.

Each season, Governors Island offers hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers the opportunity to engage with our natural surroundings and its stewardship, from a walk through our landscapes to hands-on learning opportunities within our Urban Farm, says Clare Newman, President and CEO of The Trust. “We’re thrilled to have partnered with Parsons students on these two projects, which not only provide a pop-up classroom to expand free programming, but showcase innovative, sustainable design practices to our visitors."

The Pagganuck Pavilion, produced by the 2019 Design Workshop team, acts as a solar shading device and adds a new iconic visual marker to the island’s landscape. The Pavilion was inspired by the techniques of the Lenape, the Native Americans of the Manhattan region who referred to the island as Pagganuck or “Nut Island” named for its plentiful hickory, oak, and chestnut trees. Its exterior covering is emphasized by two distinct materials, steel and recycled PVC mesh. Its outdoor seats, comprised of cork, custom steel brackets, and twelve white oak members, are  movable, allowing for users to sit wherever they want.  

The single-story Lab at The Urban Farm, produced by the 2018 Design Workshop team, provides pop-up space for events, workshops, and classes, and serves as a resource support for environmental nonprofits working on the Island, including Grow NYC, Billion Oyster Project, and Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center. It is designed to be a model for how New York City can better incorporate sustainability and emerge at the forefront of environmental experimentation and research. Materials and the tectonics of the space were a priority for the design team, who chose healthy and durable materials for the structure, including purebond, rockwool, bamboo, reused seawall, cork cladding and barkhouse. Amorim Cork generously contributed a donation of cork cladding materials that was used as the Lab’s exterior cladding material. 

“This collaboration between the Design Workshop at Parsons and The Trust has produced two distinctive yet complementary projects that are perfect examples of the commitment to community and civic-based work that the Design Workshop has been creating for the last two decades,” said Robert Kirkbride, Dean of the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons, (SCE) “It is a testament to the hard work and initiative of our participating graduate students, and a springboard to the next twenty years of the Design Workshop.” 

Parsons’ Design Workshop was launched in 1998 as a studio that provides pro bono architectural and construction services to nonprofit organizations while giving graduate architecture, interior design, and lighting students the opportunity to both design and build a community facility. Since then, the Design Workshop has continuously been at the forefront of innovative thinking in community-centered design. In recent years, the Design Workshop has partnered with organizations to create the Pavilion at East Harlem Community Garden (2016), the Field House at Riverside Park (2015), and the Play Center at Highbridge Park Pool (2012).  Joel Stoehr was the Director of the Design build program at SCE in 2018 and 2019 and oversaw both Governors Island projects.

The opening ceremony on the 20th will feature a series of remarks from many of the principals involved in making this collaboration such a success. After brief introductory remarks by Robert Kirkbride and the Executive Dean of Parsons Rachel Schreiber, Clare Newman, the president and CEO of The Trust will join student speakers Emma Costello, Becky Cho, and Diana Erazo, who will talk about their work on the Lab and the Pavilion. Joel Stoehr, the Director of Design Build Projects at SCE in 2018 and 2019, oversaw both Governors Island student projects.

Where: Governors Island, September 20th

When: 4:00-5:00PM

How: Ferry to Governors Island, 3PM from Battery Maritime Building, 10 South Street

Parsons School of Design, founded in 1896, is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines, as well as Online courses, degree and certificate programs. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.

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