Flatiron Partnership and Van Alen Institute Unveil Winner of Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition: Flatiron Reflection by Future Expansion

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 On November 20, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) and Van Alen Institute unveiled Flatiron Reflection, winner of the fourth-annual Flatiron Plaza Holiday Design Competition in partnership with New York City DOT Art. The reveal kicked off the BID’s sixth-annual 23 Days of Flatiron Cheer season, with the installation as a highly visible centerpiece for the Partnership’s holiday programming.

Flatiron Reflection was selected by a jury with expertise across the worlds of design and public art, including representatives from the Flatiron Partnership, New York City DOT Art, and Van Alen Institute’s board of trustees. The installation—situated on the Flatiron North Public Plaza at the intersection of 23rd Street, Broadway and Fifth Avenue—will be up through January 1st.

Flatiron Reflection, designed by Brooklyn-based architecture-and-design firm Future Expansion, is a public-spirited space that encourages new experiences of the city, new modes of dwelling in the plaza, and new views of its context. A bundle of shimmering tubes creates a fragmented column at the scale of the public plaza. The fluted perimeter offers niches that can be occupied, while a panoramic central space opens out like a stage into the plaza. The conical interior form cuts out the visual noise of the city to isolate the image of the Flatiron Building and its neighbors on the skyline.

The project is designed to be experienced both up-close and from a distance. As you walk around it, the play of light, shadow, and reflection changes its appearance against the background of buildings and trees. From a distance, the folds create soft reflections that become clearer as you approach; indistinguishable shapes sharpen into hazy impressions of familiar landmarks.

The installation is permitted through New York City DOT Art and is open to the public daily, weather permitting.

“We’re excited to be working with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute to temporarily transform this spectacular site,” said Deirdre and Nicholas McDermott, principals of Future Expansion. “The installation is designed for three scales of experience: The deeply creased exterior makes spaces for individuals; the interior room offers an intimate panorama for small groups; and the north-facing wedge presents a platform toward the plaza. We hope that the installation opens new possibilities for interaction and experiences while reinforcing the pure public essence of the site.”


“These installations have become a neighborhood tradition enjoyed by those who live and work in and visit Flatiron during the holiday season, and take part in our annual 23 Days of Flatiron Cheer celebration,” said Flatiron Executive Director Jennifer Brown. Flatiron Reflection most certainly will become a destination for people who already are in love with Flatiron—or are visiting our neighborhood for the first time. We are proud to partner with Van Alen Institute and Future Expansion, and invite all New Yorkers—and your holiday guests—to visit Flatiron this season!”

“This installation is the latest of four rewarding years of collaboration between Van Alen Institute and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership on the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition,” said David van der Leer, executive director of Van Alen Institute. “The initiative has become a valuable platform for launching new practices and a visible celebration of inventive, temporary designs that enliven public space during a chillier season, as well as an opportunity to understand how these spaces impact our minds and bodies.”

“It’s hard to believe that this is the fourth year that DOT Art has partnered with the Flatiron Partnership to activate the Flatiron plazas with specially commissioned holiday installations,” said New York City Department of Transportation Assistant Commissioner of Design + Art + Wayfinding Wendy Feuer. “The glistening materials and choir-like sculptural formation will prompt passersby to engage with the art, while serving as a backdrop for festive programming throughout the holiday season.”

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