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panorama high line legos architecture-NYC-Untapped Cities-Jinwoo Chong-5

They say creativity sours with age, that faced with the tumult of adult life, there’s room for little else besides work and the occasional dinner party or wedding to let loose. Gone are the days of make-believe and action figures and tag in the backyard.

Turns out, those simpler pleasures aren’t so easily let go. At least, that’s the idea behind “The collectivity project,” an art installation and social experiment inhabiting New York’s High Line around West 30th Street. It opened in May as part of “Panorama,” an outdoor art collection sponsored by High Line Art. The premise of designer and artist Olafur Eliasson is simple: gather up around two tons of all white legos, hire ten architectural firms to build the most outlandish things they can fathom, and invite anyone who passes to pick it all apart and build something of their own. The exhibition, free and open during the day, has slowly transitioned from ten pristine white creations to a whole mess of angles, bridges, and names written in bricks.

panorama high line lego project olafur eliasson-NYC-untapped citiesThe collectivity project before the vultures closed in

panorama high line legos architecture-NYC-Untapped Cities-Jinwoo Chong-4The collectivity project a few weeks after opening

The ten firms Eliasson approached to design for the project — BIG, David M. Schwarz Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, James Corner Field Operations, OMA New York, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Selldorf Architects, SHoP Architects, and Steven Holl Architects — designed something that could be seen from the High Line in real life. In fact, it was James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro that created the High Line, what most would call one of New York’s most recent and most successful tourist revitalization efforts, in the first place.

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panorama high line legos architecture-NYC-Untapped Cities-Jinwoo Chong-6

The project will remain open every day until September.

Next, read about the 20-foot Lego Statue of Liberty that once stood in Madison Square Park. Get in touch with the author at @jinwoochong.

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