Architecture for the birds (literally)

Photograph of a bird house installment.

Joyce Hwang’s “Bower” is a bird dwelling that also raises awareness of one of the most significant causes of bird mortality in urban areas — bird-glass collisions. It’s installed at ArtPark in Lewiston, N.Y. 

Architecture faculty member Joyce Hwang’s latest creation is a bird-friendly public art installation that both promotes awareness of local avian species and calls attention to a common but often invisible peril: bird-glass window collisions.

“Bower” — co-designed by Hwang and New York City-based artist Ellen Driscoll and sited along a wooded trail in Artpark in Lewiston, N.Y. — is a series of architectural fragments
that host bird nesting boxes and feature custom-designed glass ‘windows’ composed of drawings and anti-bird-strike patterning.

The nesting boxes are designed to accommodate a variety of local bird species, such as chickadees, wrens, blue birds and purple martins. The window images are created from drawings that depict local bird species that have come to prefer human- made structures for nesting. The images in the windows are overlaid with a grid of dots to help prevent birds from colliding with the glass.

“Bird-glass collision is one of the most significant causes of bird mortality in urban areas. Yet, this condition is o en overlooked,” says Hwang, an associate professor of architecture who explores relationships between the built environment and contemporary ecologies. “While there is a growing number of organizations that are beginning to address this issue through legislation, I think it is important for designers to more tangibly draw awareness to birds and their safety.”