Jean Nouvel: Jane’s Carousel in DUMBO

Jean Nouvel, Jane Walentas, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo, collabcubedJean Nouvel, Jane Walentas, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo, collabcubedClick to enlarge.

I went over to the DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn last Saturday and visited many an open studio, as well as new (to me) designy shops, the crazy sale at Desigual’s Pop-up Shop, and the large bubble-making contraption in the tobacco factory. All were fun to see, but the star of the festival was the recently opened Jane’s Carousel housed within a pavilion designed by architect Jean Nouvel, as he describes it: the jewelry box for the precious jewel.

The carousel and its box are a gift to the city from the Walentas family. Jane Walentas had been restoring the exceptionally elaborate 1922 carousel since 1984. Positioned on the edge of the East River between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, the views from the carousel are priceless, whether direct with the retractable doors folded open, or through the impressively thick acrylic walls that add a wavy, almost drippy, distorted quality to the Manhattan skyline. At night, the box acts as a magic lantern with curtains that come down and become screens, allowing the projectors in the middle of the carousel to project the horses’ shadows onto all four sides of the pavilion. I would imagine that to be a lovely sight from either bridge, the water, or Manhattan.

I have to confess that I was not initially impressed by the design when I saw it in the NY Times, but after speaking with one of the structural engineers involved in the project (Gilsanz Murray Steficek) I was assured that the photos did not do it justice. That may be the case here as well, so if you happen to be in NYC, I highly recommend taking a stroll over to Brooklyn Bridge Park and experiencing the size and majesticness of the carousel in person. If nothing else, you’ll get a spectacular view of both bridges and the skyline across the way.

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