Smith's Ghost House will sit on a bluff overlooking the Wards Meadow Fields at Randall's Island Park. Constructed entirely of chain link fence, the sculpture will translate the vernacular of the baseball backstop into an ethereal and slightly surreal contemplation of the American home. Visually Ghost House will function as a gigantic drawing of a house in three dimensions. A pitched roof will sit atop exterior walls punctuated by openings suggesting windows and doors. Materially, the structure will simply demarcate a space to be used as visitors wish: for ball games, play, contemplation, or even live performance. The diaphanous sculpture will blend into the park landscape, easily mistaken for existing infrastructure. The name "Ghost House" is a gesture to architect Philip Johnson's structure of the same title in New Canaan. However, Smith's Ghost House will more urgently recall the psychiatric institutions, reform schools, and cemeteries once present on Randall’s Island. Quietly, the piece will evoke questions of public versus private space and debates over institutionalized practices of confinement.
Photographer Michael Vahrenwald documented the project with some gorgeous photos, some of which are featured below.
Very nice work!! Thank you Michael!!
On the brilliant suggestion of Debbie Unger, Randall's Island Park turf manager, I ordered up some sod for the Ghost House. Deb generously sent some of her crew out one rainy afternoon to help get the sod placed.
The sod would prove to be one of the critical parts of the Ghost House installation, making for incredibly inviting "carpeting" for the entire house.
Tremendous thanks to Deb for making this happen!!!!
Here, Charlie the sod master works his magic, making it look like this sod had been growing here happily all along.
Now at the eleventh hour, we are working regardless of the weather.
After much anticipation, the moment finally arrives to attach the chain link mesh.
Installing chain link in a triangular pattern is a skill we must painstakingly learn through two days of trial and error. Here, we have finally mastered the process.
Peering down from our rickety double-height scaffolding.
It gets hard to stay focused when spring is in full bloom and jerk chicken is being barbecued just steps away!
Debbie Unger, turf manager for Randall's Island Park, once again saves the day and sends in some of her grounds crew to restore the terrain, which before this morning was looking like a gnarly mess.
After just two hours, these guys leave behind a beautiful site.
Huge thanks to Deb and her crew!!
With the concrete footings set, we could finally move ahead with the framework.
Nate braces the roof ridge.
Building this sculpture required an endless amount of cutting and drilling, and some questionable fashion choices.
One of only a couple of deviations from standard fence hardware: a custom fitting made in the shop makes the "bay window" roof peak possible.
Work on site was practically non-stop for four weeks, with any shop work squeezed in late at night. Here, a custom-rolled, very heavy schedule 40 pipe needs some adjustment for a perfect fit over the doorway to Ghost House. My neighbor's driveway bollards prove to be up to the task (barely).