Big Dipper Bench

Submitted by Nina Edwards Anker

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Client: Bronx River Art Center

Location: Bronx, NY, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $7,188

Project Team

Architect

Nina Edwards Anker

NEA Studio

Overview

For the 100th Anniversary of the Bronx Exposition of Science, Art and Industries in Starlight Park we proposed a functional seating/lighting installation titled Big Dipper Bench. This temporary art installation consists of seven solar-powered stars on wooden block pedestals, connected by six benches. The pedestals’ dimensions are approximately 16” x 16” x 16” and the benches vary in length from 7’ to 12’.

Goals

Designed in collaboration with artist Amy Pryor, the Big Dipper Bench is one of eight temporary art installations selected for the Exhibition at Starlight Park celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Bronx International Exposition of Science, Art and Industries. The functional seating/lighting installation consists of seven solar-powered stars on wooden pedestals connected by six cedar benches. Each star module contains an LED bulb that refracts onto the bright painted surfaces of the inside of the modules’ boxes. The green technology reflects the spirit of scientific innovation of the 1918 Bronx World’s Fair. Mirroring the view of the vast night sky it faces, the bench provides illumination at night using photovoltaic panels while orienting visitors to true north and helping to familiarize them with the night sky. On their way home from work, passersby on the high traffic pedestrian bridge are offered the plan view of the illuminated bench. Because of light pollution it is often difficult to see stars at night in New York City, but the Big Dipper is an important exception. The shape and style of this illuminating bench is a nod to the environment and its inhabitants.

Process

In a joint design effort, we collaborated to combine NEA Studio's experience with solar design and Amy Pryor's previous work representing constellations. Amy completed most of the carpentry and painting in the artist studio at the Bronx River Art Center. NEA Studio did the CNC milling and laser-cutting at the workshops in the NEW LAB, as well as the electrical engineering.