Adirondack Studios, a company that provides creative solutions for designers, artists, producers, and owners across the themed entertainment industry, has announced the completion of a project with Brookfield Properties at Manhattan West Plaza in New York City, called Citrovia.
Brookfield Properties is a leading developer with properties across the globe. When beginning a new project in the city in 2019, it decided to do something a little different from the usual construction shed.
Putting a team together
Plans began to be put in motion when The Cuttlefish, headed by producers Evan Schechtman and Warren Adcock, met with Brookfield’s marketing associates, Sara Fay and Dani Rubenstein to present their idea for a project that would play on the unexpected delights of the city, an immersive garden installation to fill the empty marble planters in the main plaza.
In order to bring this concept to life, The Cuttlefish team reached out to Adirondack Studios, having seen a previous them park project from the company in Orlando. An expert in visual storytelling, with roots in theatrical design and production, Adirondack Studios is a team of creative professionals and artists able to make their clients’ visions a reality. The company has worked on projects in theme parks, museums, restaurants, hotels, casinos, retail locations, immersive installations and more.
The design for Manhattan West Plaza featured a number of marble planters. However, during the construction process, with the construction shed blocking direct light, the planned live foliage would not be brought in until the project was complete. Instead, The Cuttlefish and Adirondack Studios began to come up with ideas for a garden that didn’t need sunlight. The team also recognized that it would not be enough to design the planters, the entire shed needed to be an environment that included the vast roof of the structure.
Making the vision a reality
During the design process, ideas began to develop around a love of lemon trees and a desire to play with perspective and size, and with yellows, purples and blues. In one session, The Cuttlefish came up with an idea: “What if a giant 6-foot lemon dropped into the planter from the sky?” From there, the concept began to take off.
A story was created around the giant lemon and the garden’s origin. The giant lemon travelled across time and space, being drawn in by the Earth’s gravitational field to land in Manhattan West mid-pandemic. When it fell into the 9th Avenue planter it split, lemon slices spilt into the planter and seeds were released which became dancing lemon blossoms.
According to the story developed by the team, the lemons then evolved and adapted to their new urban home, turning into surreal, multicoloured mutations. These new trees protectively hold their fruit to prevent people from picking them and the lemons unpeel themselves to stay cool. Canopies of translucent lemon slices absorb and reflect light to help other lemon trees grow in the shade of the skyscrapers and lemon-shaped flowers produce a delicate citrus scent.
When visitors reach the western end of the plaza, they will find three crates overflowing with lemons, while the original Hero Lemon, entices passers-by at the 9th Ave. side of the Garden. All this takes place underneath a kinetic drapery cloud, which organically flows with the breeze from the Hudson River.
An immersive experience
The Cloud is key to immersing visitors in the world of Citrovia. The kinetic sculpture features several layers of draped fabric, having gone through three prototype iterations in the design stage including a geometric tessellated cloud and an encapsulated foam cloud, as well as its final form.
Each of these three options was brought to life in a Brooklyn hangar, where the potential of the fabric cloud as an expansive, light-transmitting surface, as well as a dynamic, living and breathing part of the art installation, was clear. The Cuttlefish and Adirondack Studios then developed a design for a sky-scape as dynamic and surreal as the lemon garden itself.
Each of the 24 uniquely designed trees, lemon pavers, dancing lemon sprouts and lemon buses was crafted at Adirondack Studios’ 125,000 square foot facility in upstate New York.
“When life gives you lemons… The proverbial phrase coined by writer Elbert Hubbard in 1915 rings true over a century later,” says Jonathan Albert, Business Development, Live Entertainment at Adirondack Studios. “It has been a difficult 18 months for so many of us on a global level and 2020 has brought lemons to many lives. New York City, hit particularly hard, has survived and rebounded as only New York City does. Citrovia is a testament to the resilience of the great city. It is art and entertainment that New York City has always and will always rely on to do so.”
“With the partnership of Brookfield Properties, The Cuttlefish and Adirondack Studios, Citrovia not only has disguised a construction scaffolding with all varieties of lemons but has created a unique and fantastical bright spot in the midst of both skyscrapers and a pandemic; bringing joy and perhaps more than a few Instagramable moments.”
“You know you did well when other artists show up a week after opening to sketch and paint the lemon sculptures,” adds Adirondack Studios’ President, Michael Blau. “Just like a cool glass of lemonade, Citrovia creates big smiles!”
As well as its HQ facility in upstate New York, Adirondack Studios has regional offices around the world in California, Florida, Dubai, Shanghai and Singapore. It offers preliminary design services, design development and construction drawings, custom fabrication, and speciality support services, as well as installation and commissioning.
All other images credit Adirondack Studios.