Museum, Education Center, Exhibit Design, Floating Architecture, Public Space
NYC, New York
ISOLATION stresses detachment from others and the themes and experiences that those who have been sent to the island have endured. New York’s unwanted and undesirables were dumped onto Roosevelt Island and it was here that they experienced isolation at the asylum and the prison. ISOLATION expresses these themes using materials, daylight, and controlled views to bring this vision to life.
ISOLATION has two masses that extrude out into the water. The furthermost mass is the truest expression of detachment and is the location of the main exhibition space. The exhibition features distinct, alternating expressions of isolation: the expression of isolation as an interior aspect, being separated and ignored by everything else, and the expression of isolation as an exterior aspect, being the focus of attention. This is important in comparison of the experience of the residents of the island who had been sent there to the prisons, hospitals, or insane asylums. These spaces are aligned to the smallpox hospital to create a strong connection to the island and the past experiences that the island holds. ISOLATION also creates a secondary detached space between itself and the smallpox hospital, in which there is a memorial located in the water to all those who have endured the pain associated with the island.
The exterior memorial is shown as a series of rusted obelisks dedicated to all the unwanted and undesirables that came to Blackwell Island. Despite being a criminal, mentally ill or infected with smallpox, an individual never left the island the same because of the horrible conditions that they faced. Either they succumbed to their illnesses and died, or they lived a life full of misery and unhappiness. The water and the beating waves represent the harsh conditions that the residents faced that always pulled them down. The rusted steel walls of varying heights represent the undesirables who came onto the island, each different in their own reason for being there, but all being worn down in the end. The deteriorating heights show that even if an individual came with a sound mind, they never left the same.