Nova New York, NY 2015

Nova was commissioned by the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership through a competition held by the Van Alen Institute. The installation takes its initial inspiration from the traditional gazebo (“I shall gaze”) as a pavilion within a landscape that looks out in all directions. We used the rich historical context of the Flatiron Plaza site to frame the various landmark buildings and pedestrians through a series of scopes. These scopes create a pavilion that is different from all sides at street level, but from views above looks like a seven-pointed star. The structure is made up of aluminum that gains its strength through a cell-like structure similar to soap bubbles. Each cell acts like both a stone and part of a three-dimensional truss. On the interior, the aluminum structure is clad in acrylic laminated with 3M Dichroic Film creating a kaleidoscopic effect. The dichroic film along with the mirrored finished composite aluminum panels cladding the exterior turns each cone into a pedestrian scale kaleidoscope that remixes the surrounding buildings, urban context, and pedestrians in fun and unexpected ways.

The overall structure is made of a modular system we developed with the help of ARUP. Each cell is made of two-dimensional panels that get attached together to form a three-dimensional cell. Each cell acts like a stone. These cells come together to form a structurally stable dome in the center with

each scope acting as an arch. The seven arches come together to create a very stable structure that has at its base a larger platonic half-sphere but also exhibits the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the cell-like system. This gives us both a very stable shape and a surface with many different angles to take advantage of the kaleidoscopic effects produced by the 3M Dichroic Film.

Collaborators: 3M and ARUP
Photos: Alan Tansey

Find out more about the process:
Our original design proposal
Photos of the installation