If you’ve been in Manhattan’s Garment District lately, you probably noticed a “big” change. The iconic button and needle sculpture at Fashion Avenue (Seventh) and 39th Street has gotten a makeover. Today, the Garment District Alliance (GDA) unveils a new larger-than-life Big Button in taxi-cab yellow. Replacing the original black button, the new free-standing sculpture is the Garment District’s first permanent public art installation.
In addition to the color change, the Big Button is now accompanied by a big piece of stainless steel thread. Besides providing a new visual element, the thread also serves as structural support for the now free-standing sculpture. Previously, the original button and needle were supported by an information kiosk.
Standing 28 feet tall, the new needle and button sculpture has a fun pop-art style. The aluminum button measures 15 feet in diameter and the brushed stainless steel needle is 32 feet long. The button serves as a sort of canopy that passersby can walk under as they stroll between the needle and thread. This new open space also helps to improve sight lines and enhance the pedestrian flow on Seventh Avenue.
The original big button was designed by James Biber and added to an existing information kiosk during renovations in 1996. As personal smart devices became the norm, the information kiosk became obsolete. The GDA commissioned the experiential design firm Local Projects in 2017 to come up with a new installation for the kiosk site.
In 2018, international design-build firm UAP Company was brought on to lead the design development and fabrication of the new sculpture, working alongside Technical Artistry on lighting, and Theta Structural Engineering Consulting and McLaren on engineering. The sculpture was fabricated at UAP’s foundry.
For weeks, the new Garment District Big Button has been roped off by construction cones and caution tape, but today the sculpture will officially be unveiled!
Next, check out 11 Public Art Installations to See in February