137th Street Test Hub

137th Street Montefiore Park Test Installation - September 17–December 10, 2011

With private and public support, largely consisting of a National Science Foundation EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) award for Informal Science Education (ISE), which supports exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches, MM/ CaLL designed its first test hub site at 137th Street and Broadway

The 137th street installation included an array of 54 green vertical poles that supported convex mirrors with text, images, and Guide by Cell phone numbers. The poles, arranged in clusters, addressed broad environmental subjects including land, air, water, waste, life, energy, food and health. The mirrors reflected passers-by and highlighted elements of the streetscape, such as storm sewers, water towers, and green roofs. Attached to each mirror was a smaller disc with information about related systems—infrastructure on which our urban lifestyle depends. Author Tony Hiss wrote all of the overview text on the mirrors as well as the details narratives that were available by phone.

This temporary installation was evaluated by John Fraser, Ph.D. AIA, President and CEO of the New Knowledge Organization. Data from Fraser’s research was collected through on-line surveys, facilitated forums, and on-the-street interviews in English and Spanish. Observations of the test installation helped refine the project tactics: from how to deepen the view experience through a focus on more site-specific content, fabricator/contractor vetting, ergonomic considerations, to a better awareness of regulatory issues, and greater community partner participation. In sum, Fraser’s report demonstrated that “developing provocative encounters with science learning opportunities in urban environments through an intersection with the arts has the potential to engage people who might not otherwise pursue scientific inquiry.”