2018 City of Dreams Pavilion Design 

FIGMENT, the Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) are excited to announce the winning design in the seventh annual City of Dream Pavilion Competition: Oculi by Austin + Mergold in collaboration with Maria Park (Cornell) and consulting engineers Chris Earls (Cornell) and Scott Hughes (Silman). This temporary art structure will be assembled on Governors Island and open to the public for the summer 2018 season on Governors Island.

The winning design team will construct an architectural pavilion out of up cycled metal grain bins, connecting Upstate and Downstate. The City of Dreams Pavilion, so named for its focus on the future of a world that faces strains on both economic and natural resources, aims to promote sustainability-oriented thinking amidst the architecture and design communities, requiring designers to consider the environmental impact of their designs from materials sourcing to disposal (or ideally reuse) of waste at the end of the season.

Photos (c) 2018 Zachary Tyler Newton




The winning proposal will reuse old metal grain bins (silos), vestiges of the American agro-industrial age, in ways not unlike how medieval inhabitants of Rome reoccupied the remains of the Ancient Empire–with a bizarre combination of pragmatism and poetry. The grain bin is our contemporary spolia, and as such can be both useful and fanciful.

The bins, which dot the fields of upstate New York, will be brought to the City, establishing a visual connection between urban and rural modes of living. Out of the bins, a field of elevated oculi will be constructed to frame unobstructed views of the sky and track the path of the sun, producing a range of shadow patterns below augmented by color and sound. These elevated rooms, with their interior walls painted a particular color of the daytime sky, will invite viewers to negotiate their path below the structures. Eventually, viewers will look up and the color of the walls of the silo will match the color of the sky at the moment of the viewing.

Following the de-installation of Oculi, the bins will be reconstructed as an experimental housing cluster in Central New York. There, an interior view into the bin will occasionally reveal a color of a New York City summer sky.

The team will work with FIGMENT, ENYA, SEAoNY, and Governors Island to select the exact site for Oculi, refine the design, obtain necessary approvals, and fabricate and install the pavilion on the island.

FIGMENT is accepting tax-deductible donations to support the fabrication, installation, and maintenance of the pavilion on Governors Island for the 2018 summer season. Donations can be made by following the link here: The project will likely also be launching its own funding campaign.


About the Team

Austin+Mergold (A+M) is an architecture, landscape and design practice founded by Aleksandr Mergold, AIA and Jason Austin. A+M see their work process as slow architecture. Believing that it is preferable to rethink and repurpose existing resources than to tap new ones, A+M infiltrate existing systems that are responsible for built form, rather than reinvent the wheel each time. A+M explore local vernacular conditions to discover how an efficient (and economical) reconfiguration of available materials, forms and methods, informed by the latest advances in technology, can result in an improved quality of life for communities and individuals. A+M thrive on solving design problems around time and budget constraints, using common (often, unglamorous) materials and utilizing the long-established local methodologies in new ways. A+M’s work has been featured in Hong-Kong Shenzhen Biennale, Ljubljana Design Biennial and Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial; the work has also been published in a variety of media, including Architectural Record, Thresholds, Domus, Mnemeio & Perivallon, 306090, BLDGBLOG, Specialle-Z, The Architect’s Newspaper, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Residential Architect Magazine, and The Cornell Journal of Architecture. A+M are winners of 2010 New York Architecture League Prize for Architects and Designers, the 2012 Philadelphia AIA Emergent Architect Prize, 2014 Folly Competition at Socrates Sculpture Park, and are recipients of the 2015 New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), 2016 Cornell Council for the Arts grants (Mergold), and 2017 Urban Edge Prize (Mergold) from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Aleksandr Mergold is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at Cornell University. Jason Austin was recently an Assistant Teaching Professor at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media, Art and Design and is currently teaching at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Maria Park is an Associate Professor and Director of AAP Exhibitions and Events in the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning at Cornell University. Maria Park's work examines ways that technology intervenes in our participation in the world. Ranging from serially based paintings to site-specific installations combining studio-produced and manufactured objects, her work explores human presence and agency within a media-reliant society. Since graduating with an MFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2003, Park’s works have been included in numerous exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Museum projects include solo exhibitions at The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, MO and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Rosa, CA, and group exhibitions at the Johnson Museum of Art in Ithaca, NY, the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, MO, and the Seoul National Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea. Park was commissioned a permanent installation for the new building at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD (2012) and has recently completed the design of a 150-foot mural for the central subway temporary barricade at the Chinatown Station in San Francisco, CA, commissioned through the San Francisco Arts Commission in partnership with San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Awards include the MFA Grant Award from the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2003) the Korea Arts Foundation of America Award (2002), and the Murphy Fine Arts Fellowship from the San Francisco Foundation. Her work is represented by Margaret Thatcher Projects in New York City and Nancy Toomey Fine Art in San Francisco, CA.

Chris Earls is a professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. Earls' research involves the development and application of new computational techniques for the study of important problems involving solids and structures, as well as other natural and engineered systems. Coupling the principled treatment of uncertainty with these computational approaches facilitates the solution of complex inverse problems. Such inverse problems arise naturally as part of Earls' research. Earls is a member of the United States Association for Computational Mechanics (USACM), the International Association on Computational Mechanics (IACM), and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

Scott Hughes is a principal at Silman Structural Engineers. Hughes has been with Silman since 1997. He was named an associate with the firm in 2003 and a principal in 2012. His experience in design and project management in new construction and adaptive re-use projects encompasses a wide range of projects. These include museums, higher education buildings, and waterfront structures, such as the Whitehall Ferry Terminal and Marine Company 1 in New York City, as well as multi-family residential projects, recreational facilities, and single-family residential projects, among them the occasional townhouse renovation. Hughes has also worked as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation where he taught architectural technology in an informal “integrated studio” to graduate students, as well as at Parsons The New School for Design School of Constructed Environments where he taught structures to graduate students in architecture through real-world case studies. He currently teaches at the Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Hughes is an active member of industry organizations, and served as the President of the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) from 2013-2014. From 2009-2011 he was a Grant Review Panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts.



Thank you to all of the contributing applicants. Below is a list of the five finalists: 

  • Color Waves Pavilion by Shujie Chen, Xiao Tong, Ning Wang, Yifeng Wang, Yifeng Wu, Bowen Zhang Assoc. AIA, Matthew Streeter, Jingwen Wang, and Sam Wilson
  • Follicle: A Toxi-Cartographic Proposal for New York City by Deborah Lopez, Hadin Charbel, Mika Portguaise, Francisco Prada López, and Anders Rod
  • Mossgrove by Sam Biroscak in collaboration with Gina Dyches, Stephanie Borchers, Annick Lang, and Anneli Rice
  • Oculi by Austin+Mergold
  • The Rainbow Pavilion by Christophe Cormy Donat

High-resolution images of the winner and finalists are available here:
Color Waves Pavilion / Follicle / Mossgrove / Oculi / The Rainbow Pavilion

2018 City of Dreams Pavilion Jury

  • David Benjamin, Founder and Principal, The Living
  • Anna Fixsen, Senior Web Editor, Metropolis Magazine
  • Benjamin Gilmartin, AIA, Partner, Diller Scofidio + Renfro
  • Jorge Otero-Pailos, AIA, Director and Professor of Historic Preservation, Columbia University; Founder and Editor, Future Anterior Journal
  • Risa Puno, Artist

Josh Draper, Founder and Principal at PrePost and Lecturer at CASE, The Center for Architecture Science & Ecology, an architectural research center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will serve as a design mentor to the finalists and winning design team.

For more information about the pavilion visit:

Donations to support the pavilion and other FIGMENT projects can be made at:

About the City of Dreams Pavilion Competition 

FIGMENT has teamed with the Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) to host a competition to design and construct an architectural pavilion on Governors Island. The 2018 City of Dreams Pavilion will be the end-product of this competition’s seventh cycle. The winning pavilion is to be installed on Governors Island for the 2018 summer season, from June through late August.

The City of Dreams Pavilion will be a gathering place for people to meet, learn about the arts programs on the island, enjoy a performance or lecture, and experience the interaction of art and the historic context of Governors Island. Our theme for the pavilion, the City of Dreams, points toward the future. If we imagine a future New York City where anything is possible, what would it look like? In our wildest and most optimistic dreams, what is the future of the city? The current state of the world is such that both economic and natural resources are limited in ways we have never experienced in our lifetimes. A new way of thinking is necessary to solve the problems faced by the world. Instead of a typical design competition, the City of Dreams Pavilion asks entrants to design a temporary structure in the most efficient and sustainable way possible. Entrants are asked to consider the entire life cycle of building materials in their submission. Whether they do this by identifying companies that produce “cradle to cradle” products, garnering sponsorships from environmental or socially conscious groups, or re-using waste from construction sites, the materials used and the installation process should have as little impact as possible on the environment. In the end, the goal is to create a pavilion that has net zero impact and that serves as a prototype for a new, truly sustainable way of thinking about design and construction.


FIGMENT catalyzes and celebrates an abundance of creativity and passion, challenging artists and our communities to find new ways to create, share, think, and dream. FIGMENT’s free annual participatory arts event began in New York City in 2007 and has expanded to have 62 events in 19 cities in 5 countries. In New York, FIGMENT hosts a weekend-long participatory art event and an annual summer-long exhibition on Governors Island. For more information, visit

FIGMENT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization entirely funded by grants and individual donations. FIGMENT accepts no corporate sponsorship of any kind. FIGMENT NYC is supported by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, as well as by the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. 


It is the goal of the Emerging New York Architects Committee to encourage membership, participation, and leadership in the AIANY Chapter among intern architects, young architects (licensed 10 years or less), and emerging professionals in the fields of design and construction. The committee engages NYC’s diverse emerging design professionals through lectures, design competitions, and networking opportunities, with a focus on Professional Development, Design Excellence, and Public Outreach..

Founded in 1857, the AIA New York Chapter is the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The Chapter’s members include more than 5,000 practicing architects, allied professionals, students, and public members interested in architecture and design. The AIA New York Chapter is dedicated to three goals: design excellence, public outreach, and professional development.


SEAoNY is a member organization of the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations. Presently, 39 states and the District of Columbia have structural engineers’ associations, the largest of which is SEAOC, Structural Engineers Association of California, which was founded in 1930 and presently has approximately 4000 members.

The association sponsors workshops, panel discussions, lectures and seminars with the aim of addressing topics of interest and concern to structural engineers. Our membership, which is over 500 members, includes individuals from most major structural engineering design firms in New York State. SEAoNY also reaches out to other professionals, outside the engineering community, who work in related fields with common interests. Currently, 10% of our membership are affiliate members who come from a variety of disciplines such as geotechnical, civil, construction management and architecture. The purpose of SEAoNY is to advance the art of structural engineering in New York by improving the flow of ideas and building the community of colleagues.


Governors Island is a 172-acre Island in the heart of New York Harbor nestled between Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront. Eight minutes from the energy and excitement of the City, the Island today is a popular seasonal destination. A resilient new park is complemented by dozens of unique historic buildings, environmental educational facilities, a rich arts and culture program and a 22-acre National Monument managed by the National Park Service. Unlike anywhere else in New York, Governors Island offers peaceful settings with sweeping views of the Harbor, Lower Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty. Looking ahead, the Island will be activated year-round as a sustainable center for learning and entrepreneurship, with plans for expanded commercial and non-profit uses in its future.

In 2018, Governors Island will be open to the public seven days a week from May 1-October 31

Top Rendering (c) 2018 Austin + Mergold