Sky Reflector-Net

Submitted by James Carpenter

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Client: MTA Arts & Design, MTA Capital Construction Company

Location: New York, NY, United States

Completion date: 2014

Artwork budget: $1,200,000

Project Team

Engineer

Hans Schober

Schlaich Bergermann und Partner

Architect

Vincent Chang

Grimshaw

Engineer

Zak Kostura

ARUP

Overview

The Sky Reflector-Net folds the image of the sky down into the core of the building. The 79’ H x 74’ Diameter artwork’s subtly responsive surfaces transpose an experiential sense of nature within the most urban experience, drawing the eye upward to the ephemeral, diurnal and seasonal rhythms of the sky.

JCDA collaborated with their long-time engineers, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner (SBP) to conceptualize a lightweight optical instrument delicately suspended within the opaque interior of the new design for the roof cone. The form and refined details of the artwork primarily serves to gather a broader image of the sky and to fold it into the spatial experience of the atrium while simultaneously providing desired performance such as directing daylight down into the Transit Center and concealing the structural framing and mechanical equipment within the dome.

Embedded within the city’s fabric, the Fulton Center’s flow of 300,000 daily users gives the Sky Reflector-Net a defining civic purpose. The integrated artwork powerfully connects travelers to New York City’s mutable archipelago skies, revealing this often hidden atmospheric presence within the urban experience.

Goals

James Carpenter Design Associates' sculpture, the Sky Reflector-Net for the Fulton Street Transit Center, was created for the MTA Arts in Transit and Urban Design program. The Sky Reflector-Net builds upon Grimshaw Architect's fundamental intent for the central atrium to be a light filled, dynamic public transit space.

JCDA's primary focus is upon light and its unique ability to transform a particular site. Within this project, working closely with Grimshaw Architects, attention was directed to bringing light down into the subterranean spaces of the transit system, thereby connecting the individual to the presence of light and using light as a means of way finding and orientation.

A lightweight stainless-steel cable-net with optical perforated aluminum panel system was designed to fulfill the multitude of performance issues while powerfully embodying the experience of light.

Process

The project presented a major opportunity to fully integrate a large-scale work that dramatically defines the presence of light in the public realm. JCDA, working with engineer, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, developed the form-finding cable net structure that is held in tension within the interior of the Fulton Street Transit Center's atrium.

The form, an eccentric toroid, was selected for its calculated ability to harvest and redirect light from the skylight above to the lowest levels of the transit center. This effort built upon Grimshaw Architects’ desire to have daylight to play a key role in the transit center. By working with our engineers and fabricators from concept through installation, we were able to manage the challenges presented by the scale and complexity of the transit center’s design and construction. As in all our projects, drawings, renderings, physical scale models, full scale mock-ups and digital modelling were extensively used to establish the form, its performance and feasibility.

Additional Information

The cable-net was prefabricated offsite and installed in a day, while the diamond-shaped perforated optical aluminum panels feature a horizontal fold adaptable to the varying curves of the form. Each diamond has a unique shape and is numbered for installation. The perforation of the panels increases as the panels descend. The perforation functions in many subtle ways, revealing light but also obscuring the mechanical systems surrounding the skylight, or at the office spaces above the ground level, allowing views into the central skylit atrium through the artwork’s surfaces.