On one of the highest floors of a Lower Manhattan office tower, New York street artists have spent the past year spray-painting and splashing their graffiti, murals and other wild creations across pristine walls, windows, floors and ceilings.
Joseph Meloy works on a hieroglyphic-like art he calls "confetti motif" on large windows on 4 World Trade Center. [Photo/Agencies]
But no, it isn't vandalism.
Developer Larry Silverstein allowed the 50 artists to turn 3,200 square meters of office space that normally would rent for about a quarter of a million dollars a month into their own sprawling canvas. Multicolored graffiti and other works by sculptors and painters explode with images of fantasy and reality, tragedy and comedy.
At 86, Silverstein is still a force in the rebirth of the World Trade Center site devastated by the Sept 11 attacks that killed more than 2,600 people in New York.
"Here I am, an old fogy, but I wanted to do something exciting and different, and to provide a sense of beauty, a sense of peace, in an otherwise difficult world," he says.
His 72-floor tower 4 World Trade Center was the first to rise on the 6.5-hectare site a dozen years after the attacks. Now, the unoccupied 69th floor is covered in colors, squiggles, lyrics, faces and sculpted forms. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning views of the 555-meter One World Trade Center, the Hudson River and the memorial reflection pools where the twin towers once stood.
The new tower's top 11 floors, including the art-filled space, have been leased by Spotify, the Stockholm-based music-streaming company that is moving into other floors but hasn't yet decided how to incorporate the artworks into its corporate style.
"It is our intention to keep as much of the art as possible," says Spotify spokesman Graham James.
The free-standing works are the property of the artists who created them, at no charge.
A 9/11 tribute called In Bloom by David Uda is a circle on the floor painted with 2,606 flowers in memory of the dead.
Sean Sullivan has a personal connection to the site; his father was a detective with the city police bomb squad who lost his best friend on 9/11 and was himself hurt. His shield number is highlighted in Sullivan's mural, Beautiful Cleanup.
Sullivan says project participants are getting a big payoff.
"All the promotion and marketing is worth gold to us, plus we need a place to paint; that's payment enough."