“The shadows of the horses will be turning on all the parameters of the building,” Mr. Nouvel said. “You will have like a magic lantern, the horses turning on the four walls.”
- New York Times, Walder, Joyce. “A Ride with Head Spinning Views.” New York Times, 1 Sept. 2011
In ‘The Cunning of Cosmetics’ Jeffrey Kipnis, an architectural critic, theorist, designer, film-maker, curator, and educator, talks of the ephemeral effects and rhythm of light and shadow through form something that Kipnis admired in the architecture of Herzog and de Meuron and something that is clearly visible in Jean Nouvel’s latest work; Jane’s Carousel at DUMBO in Brooklyn Bridge park.
Jane’s Carousel is a completely restored historic Carousel made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1922. The project is named for artist Jane Walentas, who almost single-handedly brought the 1922 carousel from Ohio to Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. Of course it should be noted that Jane’s husband, David Walentas, is a developer responsible for much of DUMBO’s transformation from an industrial area to a gentrified one with shops, residences, offices, and now parks along the East River. His 1983 master plan for DUMBO included a carousel for the riverside park, and the following year the couple purchased the carousel in Youngstown, Ohio.
Nouvel carefully conceals yet opens up his carousel to the outside through his choice of material and form. The combination of a colorful carved wood carousel and glass pavilion with reflective stainless steel ceiling puts the carousel on display, especially at night. The enclosure puts the carousel on display; it allows riders to have views of the bridges, DUMBO, and Manhattan across the East River; it opens itself up via large glass doors on two sides to announce itself as open and allow breezes through; and of course it shelters without competing with the look of the carousel. The design features butt-glazed glass on two sides while there are operable panel screens on the other which at night come down to become screens that reflect the colorful horses shadows on all four sides of the pavilion resulting in a magic lantern effect. In the middle of the ribbed stainless steel ceiling is a glass oculus aligning with the carousel, which opens to bring light to the top and makes the space extend upwards. The thick acrylic wall also function to add a wavy affect to the skyline. All in all, Nouvel’s carefully designed ‘box’ for Jane’s Carousel is a deeply thoughtful and moving addition to Brooklyn Bridge Park.