The Fulton Street Transit Center (FSTC) will be a new transit hub in Lower Manhattan that unifies a multitude of existing subway lines and stations. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts for Transit held an invited competition for a permanent artwork to be integrated into the new construction and Antenna was one of the finalists.
The competition brief called for an artwork that would strive for integration with the architecture and provide clear orientation and way-finding in the space. Considering the scale and complexity of the vast structure that encompasses multiple vertical levels and underground corridors, we decided on a scheme that consists of several interventions into the various spaces, unifying them under one theme, Tides. The theme references the site and its maritime history, while drawing an analogy between the tides and activity in the transit center, with its ebb and flow of people at rush hours and off hours.
The “river of lights” is a path of circular lights that acts as a way-finding device, visually connecting the lowest level of the transit center and two diagonally opposed corridors. The motion-sensor controlled lights visualize the tides by reflecting the presence of people. They bathe the corridors in a flood of blue light during rush hour, and shine a trickle of light where people are walking during off-peak hours. At this bottom level of the transit center, we sculpted the floor to create a “riverbank” with a meandering staircase that functions symbolically and also enhances the flow of people by allowing increased access to the main passageway.
A vertical connection between levels is made with several concentric elements echoing the circular plan of the building’s dome. At the lowest level is the “turtle rock”, serving as a recognizable meeting point at the center of the transit hub. In the floor right above is a circular window, which allows daylight to fall onto the turtle rock. Beyond this floor is the “compass”. This large ring suspended in the air is a navigation tool for the subway commuter announcing train schedule information and service changes via an embedded LED display. Magically glowing at night, the ring becomes the “moon”, responsible for the tide.