A new permanent sculpture is attracting attention on the bustling streets of Midtown Manhattan, just in time for the holiday tourist season. The sculpture, titled SEED54, was created by Pratt Architecture Professor Haresh Lalvani and recently installed at 1330 Avenue of the Americas at West 54th Street. The piece, his first realized commission of outdoor sculpture, is the most recent example of Lalvani's groundbreaking work and original artistic process derived directly from a quest inspired by nature's designs, its generative principles, and formal codes.
Lalvani's SEED54—an eight-foot tall sculpture of laser-cut stainless steel—is part of his "HyperSurface" series that attracted widespread media attention last year as part of a solo exhibition presented by Moss Gallery, New York, at Design Miami 2011. SEED54 deploys mathematics and extends currently available sheet-metal technologies in an innovative manner to achieve a lightweight sculpture that appears to float above a bed of bushes in a planter on the street-level plaza in front of a New York highrise owned by RXR.
Lalvani describes SEED54 as "an exploration in negotiating the shifting boundary between what is conceptually possible and that which is physically realizable. The work aims to demonstrate the fundamental nature of how we, and nature, originate and build."
Lalvani's work is unique for two reasons: his intimate involvement in the production process and his long-term interest in the origin of form. Lalvani's research has birthed new methods of metal fabrication in an unprecedented collaboration with renowned art-metal fabricator Milgo Bufkin over the last 15 years. His interest in production has lead to innovative ways of making 3-dimensional structures, which have implications that transcend art and can be applied to design, architecture, and engineering. His interest in form and affinity towards math and science has fueled many discoveries and inventions in morphology (the study of form), all dealing with new ways to shape space, and leading to his innovative work in mass-customization and digital design-fabrication.
RXR, in combination with the architects Moed de Armas and Shannon, awarded Lalvani the commission. The final design of the sculpture was approved in June, and the fabrication process began in August. It took the team at renowned art-metal fabricator Milgo-Bufkin four months to test, fabricate, and assemble the laser-cut pieces into their present shape.
"We have always viewed art as an amenity for our tenants, enriching their workday experience," said Scott Rechler, CEO and Chairman, RXR Realty. "Haresh Lalvani's SEED54 enlivens the plaza at 1330 Avenue of the Americas, providing a dynamic, creative statement to the cityscape. We are very happy that we could collaborate with him and provide a canvas for his work," he added.
On having his sculpture installed in Midtown Manhattan, Lalvani said: "I am deeply honored that this work has been realized at a prominent city location where organic movements of people, traffic, the clouds above, and the bushes below, are juxtaposed against inert concrete plazas and still rectangles of city skyscrapers. SEED54 embraces these oppositions in a piece that longs to move, yet does so only visually and perceptually. I expect, in future, it will do so physically, in sync with its environment, like all organisms do."
Lalvani's AlgoRhythms Columns, in titanium, are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and two examples from this series are on view as part of the Institute's 125 Icons: A Celebration of Works by Pratt Alumni and Faculty, 1887-2012 at Pratt Manhattan Gallery.
Lalvani, who graduated from Pratt's School of Architecture with a M.S. degree in 1972, is working on several other high-profile projects including a wall sculpture for Pratt's Sculpture Park. The sculpture, which will be his largest piece to date, is expected to be installed in Spring 2013.
Text: Amy Aronoff
Photos: Courtesy of Lalvani Studio and ©www.RandyDuchaine.com