WXY architecture + urban design has been adding to Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park over the years, designing concession stands, a variety of benches, and a fountain, but their latest addition is adding a twist on the usual urban carousel. AN began watching the ocean-themed SeaGlass carousel back in 2006 when it was announced and the Battery Conservancy will be hosting a topping off ceremony for the structure on April 18. The carousel’s frame is made of stainless steel, evoking the spiral of a giant sea shell or the ornate ceiling of a cathedral.
WXY principal Claire Weisz said the part of the facade now covered in plywood sheathing will be clad in metal panels while other portions will include “smart glass” that can change from transparent to a dark blue tint. The solid areas serve as projection surfaces on the interior where underwater scenes will add to the enchanted effect of riding atop larger-than-life sea creatures like dolphins, clown fish, and turtles. Watch Weisz and co-principal Mark Yoes describe the carousel and other WXY projects in their Emerging Voices address from March 16, 2011. SeaGlass is the the latest in a line of high design carousels in New York, joining Jean Nouvel’s Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
It’s been a couple of week’s since Jane’s Carousel opened to the public on the Brooklyn Waterfront, allowing us time to reflect on the rainy opening day and see just how the new attraction is being received. It’s seems Jean Nouvel’s pavilion is a study in contrasts, particularly on cold gloom of the opening ceremony when we first stopped by. We made a short impressionistic collage of our observations including the carnivalesque merriment going on inside the pavilion set against the sober geometry outside. (You might also spot Nouvel himself taking a ride or an overly-excited Marty Markowitz astride one of the wooden horses.)
Granted the acrylic-paneled doors of Nouvel’s pavilion can be thrown open to the surrounding park, but the celebratory atmosphere seems contained, anchored even. Viewed from across the park, the riverside building takes on the feel of a ferry terminal. Inside, however, the playful carousel offers distorted views through the giant door panels that give downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge a fun-house-mirror effect.
Have you been to the carousel yet? What are your thoughts of Nouvel’s contrasting design?