Art & Architecture Festival at Bethel Woods | 2022
ADAPT. MITIGATE. DESIGN.
These are the words given to professors and student participants from Cornell University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Kean University, and Rochester Institute of Technology for the inaugural Art & Architecture Festival at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
These invited teams were asked to engage with architecture’s ability to affect positive social and environmental change—both as functional/aesthetic interventions and also as agents oriented toward public engagement. Rather than creating one-off installations with limited use, each pavilion was designed to accommodate programs at Bethel Woods, such as performances by emerging musicians and pop-up art events.
The concept for the festival is an homage to the ground's historic legacy.
In 1969, Art Professors Bill Ward and Ron Liis and a group of their students from the University of Miami were asked to participate in Woodstock. It was after all, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Together, the “art crew” built sculptural installations on the grounds of the festival. They created a place where the young people attending Woodstock could gather and interact with the environmental art and the artists.
Now, four days in late September, architecture students and instructors from various universities gathered on the original site and constructed interactive art installations. For some, it’s the first time they picked up a power tool. For all, it is a unique opportunity to work together, share in the learning, and see projects through from design to completion.
As one the student said: “Having gone through this experience and building a real project for the first time, I left feeling really inspired to lean into the creative part of the architecture field. I’ve always enjoyed the arts and this whole experience showed how these projects can be used to connect with all kinds of places and people.”
The 2023 Art and Architecture Festival at Bethel Woods will expand the program to eight invited universities with a focus on interdisciplinary design teams.
Design Teams By Installation
Design Team Leaders: Dillon Pranger (Cornell University, Illinois Institute of Technology), Christopher A. Battaglia (Cornell University)
Student Team: Marlee Barnes, Maxwell Rodencal, Sophie Chen, Keygan Sinclair, Samuel Castaneda
Design Team Leaders: Stephanie Sang Delgado and Fabio Castellanos (Michael Graves College School of Public Architecture, Kean University)
Student Team: Vitor Costa, Christopher Cabareas, Carlos Cruz, Maria Jaramillo
Design Team Leaders: i/thee in collaboration with Michael Randels and Kayli Hussey.
Design Team Leaders: Lara Goulart and Kate Johnson (College of Art and Design, Rochester Institute of Technology)
Student Team: Jessica Vail, Erik Dugue, Quille Hughes, Raven Rivenburgh, Rob Deane, Zaheer Shujayee, Ian Luhmann, Henna Johnston, Rachel Fiorenza, Samantha Gensler, Maddy Marcus, Justin Corcoran, Katelyn Park, Julian Mika
Mound emerges from the historic Woodstock grounds as a curving ramp, which allows visitors to journey across a lawn where attendees of the 1969 festival once camped. The horseshoe-shaped plan works two-fold—inviting visitors upward where they can access views of the historic grounds while also framing a small gathering space for people to mingle. When visitors walk on the sod-covered ramp, they are elevated above the ground that attendees walked on in 1969. Thus, the installation allows visitors to leave their own footprint on new ground—symbolizing the continued birth and rebirth of personal connections to the spirit of the original Woodstock festival.
Frame Folly exists as a latticework of four-inch by four-inch beams interspersed with a series of boxed frames that each orient—or reorient—the viewer’s attention to curated scenes in the landscape. The simplest of these frames manifest as plywood-clad rectangles trimmed with brightly painted bevels that focus the viewer’s attention on an adjacent installation. Others direct attention upward toward the shifting sky. More complex forms, strategically inlaid with reflective paneling, redirect sightlines in unexpected ways—shifting the onlooker’s cone of vision up or down several feet to foster surprise encounters with fellow visitors. Designed like a puzzle that can be reconstructed and moved to focus on new landscapes, the result is a whimsical structure that works literally, and metaphorically, to re-frame relationships between our shared communal and environmental habitats.
Boardwalk aligns itself adjacently to a historic rock wall and barn used as infrastructure at the 1969 Woodstock festival. The project, in its entirety, is constructed out of reclaimed lumber dating over one hundred years old and uses no metal fasteners with the intention that the structure can be easily disassembled and reassembled with no tools. Prior to installation, timber elements were collected from an abandoned building site and processed in order to remove remnant fasteners and hardware. Next, lapped notches were cut from specific pieces using a CNC router before being transported to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Finally, onsite assembly consisted of fitting the pieces together and securing them into place with hand-stitched cables, which dually act as netted seating. Ultimately, the installation functions as a boardwalk for visitors to pace while glimpsing views of the historic Woodstock grounds.
The Inverted Ziggurat is a re-envisioning of Joel Kerner’s 2021 installation, a 20-foot cantilevered structure descending in two-foot increments to a four-foot core. Kerner’s original installation was covered with mirrored Mylar sheets that reflected the surrounding landscape, allowing the surface to change as the viewer moved around the installation. The 2022 re-envisioning of the installation stiffened the structure with plywood panels allowing the piece to withstand the strong winds that affect the area of the installation. The panels were painted by Michael Randels, known for his work as a mural artist at Woodstock 99,’ to be a tie-dye reflection of the landscape during the 1969 festival. The sunshine of Saturday flows into the storm clouds of Sunday as a visitor walks around the sculpture.
The 2022 Bethel Woods Art and Architecture Festival is part of a three-year pilot to develop a signature design-build program based on the Hello Wood “Builder Method” methodology pioneered by Peter Pozsar. With major visionary support by Andrew Jacobson, a trustee at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Bethel Woods, the historic site of the 1969 Woodstock festival, piloted a design-build camp in 2021 and held the inaugural Arts and Architecture Festival in 2022. Advance Testing, a construction materials testing laboratory, and Grimm Construction, a family owned and operated general contractor based in Pennsylvania, provided major support for students.