Brilliant Pavilion

Brilliant Pavilion

Pritzker-prize winning French architect Jean Nouvel’s latest architectural bijou is a far cry from his usual mega-million projects, but his transparent mirrored and acrylic pavilion for the historic Jane’s Carousel on the dramatic waterfront of Brooklyn Bridge Park has magnetized both parents and kids since it opened in mid-September. Nouvel was originally approached to design a hotel as part of a marina and shopping complex on the East River site between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. When that fell through, developer David Walentas turned the project into a park; his artist wife, Jane, had spent years restoring the 1922 carousel’s 48 exquisitely carved and painted horses, salvaged from a closed-down amusement park in Ohio, and the couple commissioned Nouvel to design a structure that would allow the merry-go-round’s year-round use. The architect describes the $9 million result—the Walentas’s gift to the city—as a jewel case for the precious painted carousel. The architect’s 72-by-72-foot transparent square box has a steel frame and fixed acrylic panels on the north and south sides, and paneled doors on the east and west sides that can fold completely open in good weather, offering river and waterfront views in all seasons. The 26-foot-high domed roof has a clear round center skylight surrounded by contrasting striped black bands and mirrors. After sunset, four recessed screens drop down to show projected images of the carousel’s dancing horses illuminated by 1,200 lights. Nouvel calls it “a magic lantern, a living monument”.


Originally published in the December 2011 issue of France Today.

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