2016

MCHAP

Seaglass Carousel

WXY Architecture + Urban Design

New York, NY, USA

August 2015

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Claire Weisz

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Mark Yoes (Principal)

AUTHOR

The Battery Conservancy

PHOTOGRAPHER

Wade Zimmerman Paul Warchol

OBJECTIVE

The spiraling shell structure was sited to capture Harbor breezes and allow the ride to rely on natural ventilation throughout the year. The circular design also echoes the plan of the Battery, and together its elements articulate a new curvilinear park geometry. Scenes of undersea life are projected on the shell's interior, creating an entirely new experience for visitors. The project transforms the traditional ride structure into an instrument of the future with digital projection and electrified glass technology, or “Smart Glass.” An audio component combines environmental noise made by the moving parts of the structure with amplified original musical scores recorded live by New York City musicians. Using the paradigm of the magic lantern, the Smart Glass façade changes from clear to opaque as the ride begins, dimming the space to capture the experience of diving under water. As the carousel spins, digital projections cast moving images on the interior of the building’s shell, animating the voyage.

CONTEXT

Once a two-acre area of asphalt, the Battery Bosque now fulfills The Battery's potential as a destination at the tip of Manhattan: full of natural abundance, with spaces to sit, eat, and play, it is a lushly planted porch to the vast acreage of New York’s Inner Harbor. A nautilus shell of stainless steel and glass, the SeaGlass Carousel anchors the park with an experience of pure delight, between water and land, for visitors and locals alike – a ride through the ocean amidst a school of luminescent fish. SeaGlass's startling underwater theme echoes its location on the site of the first home of the New York Aquarium, just 200m away at Castle Clinton. The completion of the carousel demonstrates an innovative collaboration of site, art, and architecture to create a distinctly contemporary, ecologically-themed environment.

PERFORMANCE

The translucent fiberglass figures of dolphins, turtles, clownfish, and other marine life and move in unique multi-point action. Unprecedented among carousels, SeaGlass’s fish are maneuvered by motors under the floor. This innovation allows full visibility across, around, and through each creature, with no center post. Visitors sit within rather than atop the figures, enabling them to “become” fish in this aquatic adventure. The client’s focus on design innovation has resulted in a park that is rich and colorful in its planting and playful in its architecture, The Park a series of public spaces and features that respond to the site’s extraordinary inheritance and set the stage for its future.