For many early civilizations, and to this day, the phases of the moon have been a measurement of time. An ancient custom still remaining in many of the world’s lunar calendars is a day to observe the moon. “Luminescence” consists of seven sculptures that emulate the seven phases of the moon. Arranged in a semi-circular configuration, the work creates a sensory experience that metaphorically and poetically links to the tidal rhythm of the adjacent East River. Using NASA’s topographic survey data collected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the 6-ft diameter domes depict stylized but accurate representations of the moon's craters, mountains, and valleys. Each moon contains phosphorus particles that absorb sunlight during the day. As dusk approaches, the phase of each moon is revealed by sparkling blue points of light blended into a glowing soft blue background as the light is naturally released. This land art is located on 30 acres of waterfront in Long Island City, a 6-minute ferry ride from midtown Manhattan across from the Empire State building, the Chrysler tower, and the United Nations building. The placement of the seven phases of the moon on the peninsula lawn makes a natural overlook where people observe the water, the sun, the moon, and the sense of time passing. “Luminescence” received Excellence in Design Award, from New York City Public Design Commission in 2016.
Opened to the public in June 2018, Phase II of Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park transforms 5.5 acres of abandoned industrial landscape into a new waterfront park. Phase II begins south of 54th Avenue and wraps around Newtown Creek to complete the full vision of Hunter's Point South Park initiated in Phase I, and resulting in nearly 11 acres of a continuous waterfront park. The park offers places of retreat and invites intimate connections with nature at the water's edge, complementing the active recreation spaces in the Phase I park.
The park is also a new model for waterfront resilience, with a "soft" approach to protecting the water's edge from floodwaters. A continuous meandering causeway, elevated slightly above the river, offers a walk along the river's edge and protects nearly 1.5 acres of newly established wetlands. The design also leverages the site's dramatic topography with a shaded grassy promontory, a new island reached by a pedestrian bridge, a kayak launch, exercise and picnic terraces, a collection of intimate "break-out" lounges off the pathways, and a dramatic cantilevered overlook that hovers above the wetland and offers panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline.
The park is a design collaboration between SWA/Balsley and WEISS/MANFREDI with Arup as the prime consultant and infrastructure designer. The design re-establishes the site's former marshland identity and introduces a resilient, multi-layered recreational and cultural destination, bringing the city to the park and the park to the waterfront.
Video Credit: SWA/Balsley