Just three months ago, 12 Wyckoff Avenue was nothing much to look at. The lot, a few minutes walk from the Jefferson Street L stop, was used as a garbage dumping ground for everything from soda bottles to car parts.
But this summer, the space is home to a tenant of a different nature: the Putting Lot. Staffed entirely by volunteers and focusing on themes of community and sustainability, the Putting Lot is a nine-hole mini-golf course with each hole designed by a different team of architects, designers, or artists. And for co-creators Gabriel Fries-Briggs and Rachel Himmelfarb, who both graduated from Columbia University in 2008, the metamorphosis of the lot from rubble to recreation was part of the mission.
“One of the biggest things for us is demonstrating possibilities of spaces like these,” Himmelfarb explained. “The temporary nature of it”—after the summer, the Lot will come down, and the installations return to the artists—“ emphasizes the possibilities: things can come in, things can move out…these spaces have cycles and you can intervene in them.”
Another of Himmelfarb and Fries-Briggs’ goals was to provide a venue for innovative design and architecture. “There are so many people doing so much work, and so few accessible outlets.” Fries-Briggs said. So back in April, they put out a call for submissions, offering a $500 stipend for each team to design and construct their own putting hole.
Enter Greenpoint’s team PLOT.
“We jumped on it,” said William Oberlin, 35, who along with Brian Ferrier, Steph Goralnick, and Andy Baker makes up PLOT, a loosely-knit group of self-described “experience engineers,” that operates out of a space on Commercial Street.
Many of PLOT’s projects, like the Putting Lot, are small-scale and temporary. “We’re very interested in smaller projects—it’s not a new building, it’s not a new space but it’s still something that involves creating architectural pieces. said Ferrier. And the Putting Lot seemed right up their alley.
PLOT’s design was largely designed on a conventional mini-golf course, but with a few telltale differences. The course has a network of different-colored decoy holes, with only one leading out to the end-point, marked by a sign that says “Glory!” If a putter guesses incorrectly, the ball gets spit out on a lower-level green, forcing the player to putt all the way around. (A sign on the side of the hole, visible only to those who miscalculated, chides, “Didn’t do your research,”)
“There’s a vernacular associated with [mini-golf] design that’s awesome, “ Oberlin said. “We didn’t want to stray too far from that. If we could have gotten our hand on a giant gorilla, we would have thrown it in.”
The hole (number two on the course) has proven to be a favorite of the under-10 set, who try out every option to see where the ball will go.
“It’s the sense of mystery, “ Fries Briggs speculates. “They like to challenge you. The spirit of work that [PLOT] brings is very much what we wanted to have at the Putting Lot.”
The Putting Lot, at 12 Wyckoff Avenue, is open 7 days a week until the end of August.