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Tishman Construction Builds Tatzu Nishi Art Installation

Mon December 03, 2012 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Tishman Construction Corporation, an AECOM company, has completed the construction of Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus — a large-scale, temporary art installation that reimagines the iconic Christopher Columbus statue at the center of Manhattan’s Columbus Circle.

The construction company was engaged by the Public Art Fund, the New York non-profit organization that is presenting the project, to procure and manage the erection of a faux living room six stories above the street and supported by 64 ft. of scaffolding. A stairwell gives visitors access to the room where they come face-to-face with the sculpture, set against dramatic views of Central Park and Midtown. The 13-ft.-tall Columbus is surrounded by lamps, a couch, coffee table, television and custom wallpaper covered with images of American pop culture. The exhibition opened to the public in September and will be on view until mid-November.

In building Discovering Columbus, Tishman’s work included the construction of the scaffolding and a hoist elevator for public use, the installation and dismantling of the living room and associated construction activities. Tishman collaborated with AECOM engineers to provide initial site studies.

“The Public Art Fund is an expert at art installations and exhibits, and we’re experts at vertical construction,” said Pam Friedlander, Tishman senior vice president. “Projects like ’The Waterfalls’ and ’Discovering Columbus’ are a combination of the two, and we’ve become the fund’s go-to partner for this sort of thing. These projects present really unique logistical challenges, and finding the right solutions is something we’re very good at.”

The project’s scope presented several challenges that needed to be addressed quickly to maintain the aggressive six-week schedule, including adhering to the city’s procurement process and working with a number of city agencies to determine and attain the permits required for this one-of-a-kind project. Another complexity Tishman faced was operating a working construction site on a very small footprint — the site is in a small circle in the center of a city surrounded by traffic. The experienced team was able to manage this safely and successfully and delivered the project on time.

“Having worked with Tishman on a number of our large-scale projects in the past, we were excited to partner with them on the construction of Discovering Columbus,” said Susan Freedman, president of the Public Art Fund. “This work is so different from anything we’ve created previously. We were especially mindful that the structure is built around a historical monument, we were on a rather tight construction timeline, and we’re working in the middle of one of New York’s busiest intersections. But the work was completed just as the artist envisioned, and the public response has been extraordinary.”

Tishman Construction previously served as construction manager of the Public Art Fund’s New York City Waterfalls and Sol LeWitt: Structures, 1965-2006. Waterfalls was an iconic temporary art exhibition by artist Olafur Eliasson that consisted of four man-made waterfalls built on prominent New York Harbor locations overlooking Lower Manhattan. Sol LeWitt: Structures was the first outdoor career survey of Sol LeWitt’s three-dimensional works.

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