Our submission for the Beyond the Centerline design competition, entitled Aether Park, is an oasis in the middle of the city that offers a multi-level experience to the public, including both tourists and locals, while putting storm-water reuse and improving air quality at the heart of its conception. Rooted in the architectural vernacular of Park Avenue between 46th st and 57th st, Aether Park draws upon the uplifting, elevated, diaphanous materials and construction of the surrounding facades. Like those skyscrapers that celebrate the apparent lightness of materials as a visual metaphor for the great heights of which Park Avenue businessmen and businesswomen exist, Aether Park uses the same language of glass, concrete, steel, and polished black granite to both relate to the site and subvert visitor expectations.
Within this project, we offer a “Cathedral of Light” expressed as an elevated linear park, situated on top of a viaduct structure along the Park Avenue Malls. Here, people from all backgrounds can exist together within a space that takes the material language of the surrounding skyscrapers and lifts us all to higher heights. In addition, those traveling via train within the labyrinthine rail tunnels might find even a moment of elevated reprieve upon seeing the Light Box Rainforest Terrarium for a second in the darkness.
Regarding the environment, our design seeks to contribute to cleaning surrounding air and water. Using “Constructed Wetlands” on portions of the Park Avenue Malls to collect and filter stormwater, the water then passes into the Light Box Rainforest Terrarium, which uses the cleaning quality of several layers of planting heights to further affect the water. Gathered in a cistern and pumped to a filtration unit, we hope to reuse this water for irrigation on site. Looking at precedent studies like the Sidwell Middle school, a LEED Platinum project, “constructed wetlands use less energy to process waste than traditional municipal systems while creating habitats for plant and animal life. After first flowing through a treatment tank to remove solids, wastewater is treated using biological processes. Aquatic plants, water, microorganisms, sun, soil, sand, and air filter and clean the water. The process is completed with additional filtration of particulates and an ultraviolet (UV) filter.” Also, because the Terrarium pierces underground, it is also capable of helping with the poor air quality as the plants interact with the underground air.
Aether Park is a welcoming, exciting space within the heart of the city - one that hopes to gather people from all walks of life while also contributing to the quality of environment.
Park Avenue, New York City, NY
Fisher Brothers Design Competition
Concept Design Completed / 2018
Park Avenue between 46th ST and 57th ST