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September 14, 2017

September 14, 2017, New York, NY – The Center for Architecture, with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, is proud to announce Scaffolding, opening on Monday, October 2 at 6:00 pm. The show, curated by independent researcher Greg Barton, examines the history and extraordinary applications of scaffolding as a kit-of-parts technology to provide novel forms of inhabitation and access. Through an installation of actual scaffolding designed by Shohei Shigematsu and OMA New York with graphic design by MTWTF, Scaffolding will disrupt the architectural space of the Center for Architecture, instilling a new appreciation of scaffolding and its transformative potential.

Of particular interest to our local New York City audience, scaffolding is a flexible and accessible system hiding in plain sight. Despite its indispensable link to architecture, scaffolding is too often maligned as a necessary nuisance; however, its flexibility, modularity, and ephemerality make it a robust building material. The exhibition demonstrates how this simple construction technology lends itself to compelling installations, positioning it as a pragmatic tool for radical architecture and civic engagement. There are an estimated 280 miles of scaffolding occupying New York City at any given time; it is something pedestrians encounter every day. How might we begin to imagine alternative uses for the structural framework and appreciate it anew?

“‘Scaffolding’ functions as a noun and verb, object and process,” Barton points out. “It is commonly invoked as a powerful metaphor by many disciplines due to its supportive role and adaptive qualities.” In the exhibition, Barton outlines an illustrated history of the development of scaffolding, from the wooden beams of medieval builders and bamboo in Asia to the industrialized steel and aluminum tubes found today on construction sites around the world. A presentation of international contemporary case studies, including temporary theatrical spaces, display structures, alternative access projects, housing prototypes, and participatory self-build schemes, suggests the myriad possibilities of scaffolding beyond its traditional usages in construction. Many of the projects on display explore new social relationships and collaborative processes that renegotiate the urban environment.

OMA New York’s design for Scaffolding is an exhibition infrastructure emanating from construction scaffolding seen in and around New York City. Informed by both practical and unconventional uses of scaffolding, the installation deploys flexible devices for display to support curatorial ambitions. The armature will fill the Center for Architecture – a matrix of scaffolding inserted into the atrium vertically connects disparate gallery spaces, while an infill of scaffolding in the Hines Gallery visually extends the exhibition beyond gallery walls and onto the street. “I am thrilled that the Center for Architecture will be temporarily “under construction”. It is exciting to experiment with the flexibility of scaffolding systems as an exhibition environment,” says Shohei Shigematsu, Partner-in-Charge at OMA New York. The firm has also designed a system of periscopes scattered within the scaffolding in the atrium. Climbing from Tafel Gallery below ground to the storefront window, a series of mirrors reveal views to both the exhibition’s content and gallery spaces otherwise not visible from the street. The periscopes, in conjunction with the exhibition content, will add a new immersive dimensionality to the Center, while simultaneously allowing the city to inspect the exhibition from the outside and activating intrigue from the urban realm well after-hours.

“We invite the public to explore OMA New York’s provocative installation, which will activate the galleries of the Center for Architecture through an unconventional use of scaffolding,” says Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA, Executive Director of AIA New York and the Center for Architecture. “The immersive experience will offer visitors a different understanding of our space with an imaginative framing of the show’s content. We hope attendees gain insight into the creative opportunities that scaffolding, so prevalent in NYC and around the world, can provide.”

“This exhibition makes poetry out of one of the most prosaic elements of architecture and construction—a material that exists as a backdrop in the everyday experience of most New Yorkers,” says David Piscuskas, FAIA, LEED AP, 2017 President of AIA New York. “Even amidst the technological leaps that have reshaped our profession, scaffolding retains its integral role in architecture, and this exhibition tells that story.”


Monday, October 2, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Scaffolding: A Framework for Social Engagement
Saturday, October 7, 1:00 – 6:00 pm

Theatrical Scaffolding: A Flexible Stage
Thursday, November 9, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Responsive Scaffolding: Emergency Relief
Monday, December 4, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

FamilyDay@theCenter – Scaffolding: Connect and Construct
Saturday, December 10, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm or 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Members of the press are invited to all related events. Please RSVP to

Scaffolding is made by possible by the generous support of the following sponsors:

Scaffolding Underwriter
Universal Building Supply, Inc.

Duggal Visual Solutions

Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown

2017 AIA New York President’s Circle Patrons
1100: Architect
Aronson’s Floor Coverings

Amy Smith & John Berylson Charitable Foundation
New York University
Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects
Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Zetlin & DeChiara

Scaffolding is supported in part by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

Scaffolding is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

This exhibition is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

About the Center for Architecture
The Center for Architecture is the premier cultural venue for architecture and the built environment in New York City, informed by the complexity of the City’s urban fabric and in dialogue with the global community. The Center shares a home with the AIA New York Chapter and has the unique advantage of drawing upon the ideas and experiences of practicing architects to produce thought-provoking exhibitions, informative public programs, and quality design education experiences for K-12 students. It also leads New York City’s annual month-long architecture and design festival, Archtober. The Center for Architecture’s aim is to further public knowledge about New York City architecture and architects, foster exchange and collaboration among members of the design, development, building, scholarly, and policy sectors, and inspire new ideas about the role of design in communities by presenting contemporary and practical issues in architecture and urbanism to a general audience.

About OMA New York/Shohei Shigematsu
OMA is a leading international partnership practicing architecture, urbanism and cultural analysis. Established in 2001, OMA New York has overseen the completion of the Seattle Central Library, the IIT Campus Center, the Prada New York Epicenter and Milstein Hall at Cornell University. Shohei Shigematsu is a Partner at OMA and has led the firm’s diverse portfolio in the Americas for over the last decade. His engagements in cultural venues include an extension to the National Art Museum of Quebec; the Faena Forum, a multi-purpose venue in Miami Beach; an extension to the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York and an event space for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. Sho also designed exhibitions for Prada, the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Park Avenue Armory.


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