Guggenheim, BMW Detail Plans for Global Urban Lab Project

From left, Guggenheim curators Maria Nicanor and David van der Leer, architect Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow-Wow, and graphic designers Sulki Choi and Min Choi of Sulki & Min at today’s press conference announcing the BMW Guggenheim Lab (Photo: UnBeige)

It’s official: the Guggenheim is taking its curatorial program on the road. In what Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, described at this morning’s press conference in New York City as “one of the most exciting projects the Guggenheim has ever undertaken,” the museum has partnered with BMW to launch a global initiative that will bring “labs” that are part architectural installation, part think tank, and part event hub to nine cities around the world over the next six years. “The BMW Guggenheim Lab is the largest and most ambitious cultural collaboration in the history of our company,” said Frank-Peter Arndt, member of BMW’s board of management. “It will develop solutions and concepts for cities of the future.”

Conceived as a vast and deliberately open-ended R & D project, the program will consist of three globe-hopping mobile structures, each with its own distinct theme, architecture, and graphic identity. The first 5,000-square-foot BMW Guggenheim Lab will be designed by Tokyo-based architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow, which David van der Leer, co-curator of the project, praised for its “very witty way of dealing with everyday design challenges.” The Seoul-based firm of Sulki & Min will create the graphic identity of the first lab. It will be installed late next summer in North America, where it will present its programming (site-specific workshops, public discussions, performances) through the fall before moving on to cities in Europe and Asia. The structure will also present the responses of the BMW Guggenheim Lab Team (four early- to mid-career professionals identified as emerging leaders in their fields) to the first theme: “Confronting Comfort: The City and You.” At the conclusion of each structure’s three-year world tour, it will be the focus of an exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York City.

Many details remain sketchy, but here’s a handy diagram of how the first cycle will go and (posted below) a video explaining the project.

Originally produced for and Directed by Thomas Piper and Charles Marquardt. © 2010 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. Used by permission.