A Temporary City Celebrates Cooperation and Creativity

The Whiz Bang Quick City, an instant town of mostly cardboard domes and inflatable tents, existed for four days near Woodstock, New York.

| July/August 1972

Les Walker and Robert Mangurian—both professors of design at City College in New York—got so dadgummed frustrated trying to teach architecture students with paper models instead of genuine full-scale constructions . . . that they decided to do something about it. That "something" turned out to be Whiz Bang Quick City, an instant town of mostly cardboard domes and polyethylene inflatables erected for four days near Woodstock, New York in April of 1971. The freewheeling project worked so well that Les and Rob (and a vastly expanded merry band) were back again this year from May 26 to June.4 with Whiz Bang Quick City 2.

Now WBQC 2 was not your ordinary small town. Lord knows. It was more like The Swiss Family Robinson Meets The Illegitimate Children Of Jules Verne. You know, all self-sufficient and do-it-yourself . . . but in a way that it's never been done before. Or to put it in other words: the folks who inhabited WBQC 2 were all good people and true . . . but just delightfully daft enough to turn a dead-serious design conference into a nineday frolic.

But then, what can you expect? Living for over a week in an instant village of 20 or 30 geodesic domes, inflatables, stretched fabric forms, foamed dwellings, a traditional Plains Indian tipi, bamboo towers and parachute tents is heady stuff, fells. Especially when your own media freaks are circulating with TV monitors, video tapes and Radio WBQC-AM—brought in all the way from Yonkers especially for the occasion—to document the whole happening. It's a wonder the local constabulary didn't surround the entire event, cart off the complete cavorting crowd—dogs and all—and lock 'em up for loonies.

Well, not really. Because, as any fool could plainly see, this mini-Woodstock Nation was clearly a portent of the Abundant Life For All that Bucky Fuller and other seers keep telling us is just around the corner. And the atmosphere, the incredible atmosphere of sharing and cooperation! Who could possibly gaze out over the mellow men and maids camped on WBQC's three amazing meadows . . . and not catch at least a glimpse of Better Times ahead?

That glimpse was brought to Planet Earth this year by Les and Rob and a few helpers. The American Federation of the Arts, Educational Facilities Laboratory, New York State Council on the Arts and CCNY—to be specific—kicked in grant money amounting to a total of $3,500. Anon Shoener had a lot to do with those grants . . . and other funds set aside to partially finance WBQC for some years to come.
And let's hear it for Walter Urban and Mike Ernest who leased WBQC's site—the whole shebang, including three meadows and a pond—to Les and Rob for the magnificent sum of $1.00 (worth roughly 37¢ in these inflated times).

Not forgetting for the nonce, of course, that the powers-that-be in nearby Phoenicia, New York passed a special ordinance to make the gathering all very legal and official. A right neighborly gesture, we'd say, and one that should be noted far and wide.

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