Client: Kenmare Square LLC
Location: New York, NY, United States
Completion date: 2019
Monarch Sanctuary Installation
6 Normandy Heights Rd,
Morristown, NJ 07960
MDF, Steel, Plexiglass, Concrete
The Monarch Sanctuary (Lepidoptera terrarium) will be eight stories of new commercial construction in Nolita, NYC. Programmatically, the building space will mostly contain retail and office life. Yet central to its purpose is serving as a breeding ground and sanctuary for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). It is a pioneering building – one that aims to be ecologically generous, weaving butterfly conservation strategies into its design through the integration of monarch habitat in its façades, roof, and atrium. Not just a building envelope, the edifice is a new biome of coexistence for people, plants, and butterflies.
The monarch butterfly is an iconic species that can be simply identified by its bright orange color and unique markings. Interest in this species has increased in the last decade due in part to a decline in the eastern monarch population over the last 30 years. Conservation can take many shapes, from farmers establishing habitat in non-productive crop land to urban and suburban households working milkweed into their gardens.
The artwork was essential to the overall concept and performance of the building. It is fully integrated into the tectonics as a public art piece that provides a habitat for Monarch butterflies through façade panels. The Monarch Sanctuary (Lepidoptera terrarium) will be eight stories of new commercial construction in Nolita, NYC. Programmatically, the building space will mostly contain retail and office life. Yet central to its purpose is a semi-porous breeding ground, waystation, and sanctuary for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). It is a pioneering building – one that aims to be ecologically generous, weaving butterfly conservation strategies into its design through the integration of open monarch habitat in its facades, roof, and atrium. Not just an aesthetic piece, the artwork is a new biome of coexistence for people, plants, and butterflies. It will bolster the Monarch’s presence in the city through two strategies: open plantings of milkweed and nectar flowers on the roof, rear facade, and terrace will provide breeding ground and stopover habitat for wild monarchs, while semi-enclosed colonies in the atrium and street side double-skin facade will foster monarch population growth. The insects will have fluid open access to join the wild population.
This artwork was completed in a highly collaborative manner between all parties under a united mission to “Design Against Extinction.” Our common goal was to design a functioning artwork that would mitigate the often hazardous and destructive tendencies of buildings by providing a habitat for Monarch butterflies. Our interdisciplinary studio is composed of entomologists, biologists, artists, landscape designers and architects. All their insights and feedback were utilized to develop a comprehensive design to a very intricate problem. It was built in our studio which is within New Lab, a makervillage that hosts advanced additive manufacturing, CNC milling, waterjet and laser cutting, and wood/metal shops. We collaborated with expert technicians and support staff. This artwork was also completed during our research and design fellowship, which examines socio-ecological design theory through a multitude of fabrication and rapid prototyping techniques. Finally, the connection to the community of NYC was essential. The prime location will attract attention and educate the public on Monarch extinction. Furthermore, the artwork prototype was exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum for public view as well as workshops where we discussed the design approach.
Client: Kenmare Square LLC Team: Terreform ONE Project Management: Vivian Kuan Architects: Christian Hubert, Nicholas Gervasi Design: Maria Aiolova, Anna Bokov, Kristina Goncharov, Yucel Guven, Zhan Xu, Theo Dimitrasopoulos, Xinye Lin, Sabrina Naumovski, Zack Saunders ENGINEERING: Theo Dimitrasopoulos, Nat Oppenheimer Research: Larissa Belcic, Shahira Hammad, Deniz Onder, Aleksandr Plotkin Tech Consultant: Anouk Wipprecht Sponsors: Intel, BASF