As Architects we are trained to look at our landscape and our buildings as a canvas. Where the assembly of form and materials creates an environment for its users and we create spaces for interaction, performance, art, education and more. The people at Bandaloop have thought about the building as a canvas in more literal convention, where the function of a building façade is no longer a skin, an enclosure or an image to the world, but a venue for performance.
Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing the California based group, Bandaloop perform at the Providence FirstWorks Art Festival. The group performed in Kennedy Plaza on the 30 story, 413’ tall Sovereign Bank building, the group’s biggest building yet. The activated public spaces in and around Kennedy Plaza are highlighted in the illustration below. The Sovereign Bank building is situated conveniently among the heavily trafficked pedestrian zones and its location along with height and a monolithic façade make it a perfect choice for Bandaloop’s performance venue. A civic and pragmatic use of urban space by day transforms into a lively night-time space, deserving of it’s pseudonym of “The Renaissance City.”
Bandaloop’s performance was incredible. The dancers seemed to float off of the building with a sense of buoyancy, weightlessness and grace. Interestingly enough the use of the façade as a stage seemed like a natural choice and I bet the view was equally spectacular from any vantage point – not a bad seat in the house! The energy this performance infused into the guests at Kennedy Plaza was palpable and remarkable. Such a shift in energy and livelihood initiated by the vertical performance is something the Architects and Planners of the plaza could not possibly have foreseen. For a group whose mission statement is to, “Re-imagine dance and activate public spaces …” I’d say that they are making good progress. The Bandaloop performance, coupled with the help of the Food Truck craze and the Providence Waterfires, energized the crowd at Kennedy Plaza and sparked a refreshing outlook for Providence urbanism.
A short excerpt from Saturday’s performance.