Times Square, arguably one of the world’s great public intersections, has an estimated 500,000 people passing through it everyday. It seemed an ideal circumstance to initiate and inform a poignant exchange of ideas between citizens, perhaps will intimacy in an instance of its opposite.
Peace & Quiet is a temporary dialogue station where veterans and civilians—two wide ranging demographic groups, whose paths increasingly do not cross—can openly engage each other in meaningful conversation. It is a tranquil place to meet, share stories, leave a note, shake hands—a veteran-civilian exchange, in person. Beyond politics, stereotype or judgement; bridging the often unnecessary gap. It is scheduled for installation on the north end of Times Square this coming November, in time for Veteran's Day.
Located far opposite the US Army recruiting station—the possible commencement point for arduous and dangerous journeys—the dialogue station will engage the women and men of the armed services in their roles within civilian life. Abstractly interpreted, the stations are intertwined portals, bracketing experiences the vast majority only hear of in the news; events at the forefront of our national identity and economy, and yet too often remote or misunderstood to those who do not, or dare not, enter these situations directly.
Team: Brooklyn-based architecture firm Matter Practice, initiated this project as part of our interest in socially active design for the public realm. Responding to an open call from the Times Square Alliance (TSA) Public Art Program, we proposed a structure to house social dialogue.
Shortlisted from nearly 400 applicants, our proposal was approved for final installation by the TSA’s Art Review Committee—a body comprised of ‘directors from major New York art institutions, public art managers from the City’s Parks, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Departments and Alliance board members’.
We've lined up an amazing program. Collaborating with us are a few incredible organizations, each addressing the civilian/veteran divide through different portals. StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative—a program which records, shares, and preserves the stories of post 9/11 veterans, active duty service members, and their families; the Pat Tillman Foundation and its Tillman Military Scholars; and Code of Support Foundation will be hosting dialogue activities at the Station on different days. Additionally artist and community organizer Brian Fernandes-Halloran will be facilitating 'a wall of correspondence' within the station, where veterans and civilians can post stories of personal experiences of being protected.
And now we have to build it!! And we really could use your help.
What you can do: $15,000 will allow us to increase the quality of the station's materials, and support the considerable pre-fabrication, installation, and dialogue moderation costs. If we exceed this funding goal, we will be able to increase the number of recorded dialogues and stories from within the station and further our outreach. These recordings will become part of an online archive - a repository of ideas and stories about and across experiences, often bridging civic divides. If we wildly exceed our fundraising expectations, we will aim to travel the Station, bringing the Dialogue Station to other public squares in other cities. The conversation is really just beginning.
Please join us, and thank you for your support!
We are thankful to Scott Thompson and Larry Winters, Co-Creators of Veteran-Civilian Dialogue and the team at Intersections International, our first entry point into the world of veteran affairs; their invaluable consultancy helped hone our programming ideas. Environmental Graphic Design is by VosBrenner; Structural Engineering is by Hage Engineering PC. The Times Square Alliance is supporting the project's logistical planning and outreach, through both traditional media and social networks.
Funding has been provided in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Risks and challenges
With an installation date fast approaching we are already working hard on final detailing of the structure, beginning material purchases, and completing mock-ups.
There are many costs involved in making an acoustically insulated 'room' at the 'crossroads of the world' - including purchase of refined materials we couldn't get donated, transport from our studio in Brooklyn to Times Square, paying professionals to help us build it, and providing stipends to dialogue moderators. But with a little help from our Kickstarter community the conversation can really take off. Let's make this project an unfettered success!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (20 days)