With BMW Guggenheim Lab Gone, First Street Green Looks to Future

Screen shot 2011-12-13 at 2.46.17 PMNick DeSantis

The first event at the former site of the BMW Guggenheim Lab got off to an unlucky start on Saturday.

Volunteers from First Street Green – the neighborhood organization that helped transform the park from a rat haven to a community event space – put together their “visioning wall” in the shape of a tall arch. Shortly afterward, the afternoon breeze brought the colorful sculpture crashing to the ground in a heap of foam tiles.

Undeterred and in good spirits, the group broke the sculpture apart and continued with the real business of Saturday’s gathering: soliciting ideas from neighbors about the park’s future, which remains in question since the Guggenheim Lab’s departure.

John Bowman, a member of First Street Green, said the two biggest hurdles facing the group are logistics and funding. They plan to use the wintertime, when the park is dormant, to work out permitting and scheduling details. The installation of a sculpture garden has been delayed till spring.

Screen shot 2011-12-13 at 2.46.26 PMNick DeSantis

“One of the things people don’t realize is that when the Guggenheim moved in here, they were given sort of carte blanche, because, well, they’re the Guggenheim,” he said. First Street Green, he noted, will need to have its own plans in place for insurance, permitting, and building structures.

Eventually, he said, the group will act as a conduit for artists and organizations that want to hold events but don’t have a traditional space to do so. The events may revolve around a series of themes – the environment, for example. The group has also had conversations about hosting films in the park. To raise money, it’s applying for a $400,000 federal grant that will help pay for basic infrastructure like storage sheds, according to Silva Ajemian, a First Street Green member.

Saturday’s event was likely the last at the vacated park until spring, when the weather gets warmer.