The NYC That Never Was: Wild Plans to Redo the Statue of Liberty

1983-Reimagining Statue of Liberty-Storefront for Art and Architecture Competition-PosterCall for Submission, 1983. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture.

In 1983, as the centennial of the Statue of Liberty dedication approached in 1986, the Storefront for Art and Architecture launched an open call competition to reimagine the New York City landmark for the contemporary era. This type of provocative competition is part of the DNA of Storefront, founded in 1982 to present innovative work at the intersection of art and architecture. More than 30 years later, with a distinctive location at 97 Kenmare Street in Nolita, and the opening of an archive at Industry City tomorrow, Storefront continues to present cutting-edge exhibitions and serve as a resource to architects, academics, and journalists alike.

In this re-tooling of the Statue of Liberty, Storefront writes that it solicited designs for “a new symbol of collective freedom and equality that would resonate more distinctly with contemporary culture, thereby inviting a critical appraisal of the role of the monument in contemporary society.”  The issues addressed by the architects in the competition resonates today still, with one entry urging to “Restore people not a statue,” listing people “without liberty” in society.

In the era before the widespread use of computer rendering programs, the Storefront archive is particularly notable for the submissions of works using craft methods, many by architects well-known today.

1983-Reimagining Statue of Liberty-Storefront for Art and Architecture Competition-PostcardPeople Without Liberty. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture.

1983-Reimagining Statue of Liberty-Storefront for Art and Architecture Competition-Text_People-without-LibertyText by Kyong Park, People Without Liberty, 1983. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture

1983-Storefront for Art and Architecture-Statue of Liberty_Park 1
Kyong Park (NY), A Suggested Restoration of The Statue of Liberty for its Centennial of 1986. 1983. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Editor’s note: The below piece, entitled Grass Statue of Liberty, when looked at up close really looked like marijuana!

1983-Reimagining Statue of Liberty-Storefront for Art and Architecture Competition-Liberty_Church2Amanda Church (NY), Grass Statue of Liberty, 1983. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture

1983-Reimagining Statue of Liberty-Storefront for Art and Architecture Competition-PalaiaFranc Palaia (NJ), Rayguns Obsession, 1983. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture

1983-Reimagining Statue of Liberty-Storefront for Art and Architecture Competition-OlivoRoberto Olivo (NY), 1983. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture

1983-Reimagining Statue of Liberty-Storefront for Art and Architecture Competition-ChurchAmanda Church (NY), Mocten Status of Liberty, 1983. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture

1983-Reimagining Statue of Liberty-Storefront for Art and Architecture Competition_KellyRay Kelly (NY), Rainbow, 1983. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture

Tomorrow, Storefront for Art and Architecture will be opening up its archives, which include competition entries such as this one, to its members with a reception following at Industry City Distillery. Get a sneak peek inside the archives here.

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Next, see 10 outrageous architectural plans for NYC that never came to be

 NYC That Never Was, Statue of Liberty

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