Just opening on Broadway: The Ice Box Challenge

Ice Box Challenge in New York
© Shaun St-Amour

If it can make it here, it can make it anywhere.

There have been some very boring shows on Broadway; some say that Tom Stoppard plays are like watching paint dry. Right now, New Yorkers can do something almost as boring; they can go to Broadway and watch ice melt in the Ice Box Challenge.

driving on broadway© If we can make it here, we'll make it anywhere! /Photo Thomas Moorr

But wait, there is true drama in this show. It started way off-Broadway in Vancouver last year; the show was then picked up by new producers, NK Architects for a road show in Seattle, before hitting the bright lights of Broadway.

dropping box© Shaun St-Amour

The dramatic tension in the plot comes from the race to see which block of ice melts first. The playwrights tell us that one of the boxes is built to good old American building code standards, and the other, to the International PassiveHouse standard that is commonly used in places like Brussels, Belgium, where it is actually the building code standard -- think of Rocky meets the Muscles from Brussels on ice.

In fact, this is an international co-production with Canadian boxes, high quality New York ice in a starring role, and backing by Brussels-Capital Region and Brussels Invest & Export / hub.brussels with the final curtain during Brussels Day. The boxes have even been tarted up by a Belgian artist, Olivier Binamé (which I am not crazy about, because blue objects absorb more heat than red ones, so they may be shaving the dice).

icebox© Shaun St-Amour

The idea behind this slow-moving performance is to promote high performance building. According to the Ice Box Challenge site:

High-performance buildings are reliable, affordable, comfortable buildings that keep the indoors in and the outdoors out. They stay comfortable and quiet throughout the year, including through summer heatwaves, winter storms and power outages. The buildings use up to 90% less energy for heating and cooling than other buildings do, while maintaining good indoor ventilation and air quality. They are easy to maintain. They are also affordable to build, own, live in, and work in.

And because this is Broadway, there have to be Guys and Dolls and gambling. While this isn't the oldest, established permanent floating crap game in New York, it is almost as exciting: the audience has to guess how much ice will be left in each box after the month ending on 23 May.

take the challengeTake the challenge!/Screen capture

Now it is not like I have been clocking Mindy's cheesecake to let you know that there is going to be more ice in the PassiveHouse Ice box than in the conventional box. But how much ice will be left? That is the Ice Box Challenge. And the top prize is a trip to Brussels, where every building wins.

Full Credits:

The Challenge was made possible by the Brussels-Capital Region and Brussels Invest & Export / hub.brussels, organized with the Building Energy Exchange and NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and partnered with NYC Department of Transportation, Garment District Alliance, A2M Architects, New York Passive House, North American Passive House Network, 475 HIgh Performance Building Supply, Steven Winter Associates, and SYNLawn.

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