A Monument Honoring Abolitionists Gets Stalled in Brooklyn, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

Rendering of Willoughby Square Park in Downtown Brooklyn

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In Downtown Brooklyn, plans to build a monument honoring abolitionists gets stalled.

When the artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed was enlisted to create a monument honoring Downtown Brooklyn’s abolitionists roots at the under-construction Willoughby Square Park, she bucked expectations and conceived a series of pavement engravings and bronze placards that pose questions about the antislavery movement’s legacy. Preservationists and activists spoke out against her design, insisting that women and people of color are fighting to see themselves figuratively represented in New York’s monuments after a contentious summer that saw dozens of statues toppled around the country. A recent meeting of the Public Design Commission, which reviews permanent monuments and artworks on city property, voted to table Rasheed’s proposal until a later review. “Having multiple pathways for engagement is the most important thing to focus on here,” Rasheed, whose text-based banners recently adorned the Brooklyn Museum’s facade, said at the meeting. “This is just one project in a larger ecosystem of projects, which are trying to address questions around abolition.”

Paris officials turn off Claude Lévêque’s light sculptures after sexual abuse allegations.

Following allegations that the French artist Claude Lévêque seually abused and raped minors, Paris authorities have voted to turn off his luminous public sculptures. Residents of Montreuil, a commune east of Paris, chose to turn off Modern Dance (2015), a sculpture that consists of three large blue fiberoptic hoops encircling a water tower in the town’s square. Montreuil’s assistant cultural mayor, Alexie Lorca, told Le Monde that the blue light “has become unbearable for residents” following his accusations. The commune of Montrouge, meanwhile, has reversed its controversial decision to leave up one of Lévêque’s neon works that he made last year for a festival; it will be taken down by March 10. The decisions follow Lévêque’s departure from Kammel Menour Gallery and an announcement that the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Geneva “will not show any of his work in the future.”

The Flaming Lips concert in Oklahoma City

The Flaming Lips performed to an audience in literal bubbles, which may not be safer.

The Flaming Lips recently performed to an audience of people that were encased in individual plastic bubbles, but public health experts aren’t sure that measure is entirely effective at preventing the spread of Covid-19. Ultimately, virus transmission control depends on good air circulation and filtration, which wasn’t immediately apparent in the bubble setups. “There’s no evidence about the efficacy—or lack thereof—of these bubbles from an infectious disease transmission point of view,” Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, told the New York Times. “So, in theory, if air filtration is good, protective barriers can helpfully augment and reduce risk of transmission, but I would be hesitant to attend a concert in a bubble at the moment unless this has been assessed further.” 

The Snøhetta-designed El Paso Children’s Museum is crowdsourcing its new name. 

After winning a design competition for the new El Paso Children’s Museum, Snøhetta designed a light-filled playscape programmed to bring value to the city’s youth and also to complement the nearby children’s museum in Juárez, Mexico. The architecture resembles a formation of clouds with an assemblage of seemingly floating floors that connect the galleries throughout. Most importantly, the new El Paso Children’s Museum needs a name! Head to to submit ideas. 

Two of the world’s most prolific design firms are moving to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Also known as the Silicon Valley of New York, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is home to some of the most innovative technology companies of late: Newlab, a multidisciplinary technology hub; Systech, an IT services firm that specializes in cyber security, cloud solutions, automation, and strategic IT consulting; and Honeybee Robotics, exactly what it sounds like. Two major design firms are making the move to the 115-year-old post-industrial building in the complex that once housed and shipped Sweet’N Low: Smart Design, known for its groundbreaking designs with OXO, and Daedalus Design & Production, the set-designing practice for Hamilton and Frozen. The century-old boat-building facility is honoring its manufacturing roots with an extensive $42 million renovation by S9 Architecture, which will transform it into a modern design hub.

Pill bottle prototype crowdsourced on TikTok

Today’s attractive distractions:

Archaeologists unearth remains of what may be the largest-ever land animal.

SpaceX launches a rocket carrying an unprecedented amount of satellites.

TikTok users crowdsourced a pill bottle prototype for Parkinson’s patients.

Scientists can now hack your nerves to make artificial limbs feel much lighter.

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