News and Events

Installation of Sky Reflector-Net

Rebecca Maloney Rebecca Maloney Americas Press Office ,Boston
7 August 2013

This reflective cable net structure at New York’s Fulton Center will help orient future passengers.

Sky Reflector-Net, is an artist, architect, engineer collaboration with James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA), Grimshaw Architects, and Arup, commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Arts for Transit and Urban Design and Capital Construction Company. Sky Reflector-Net expands the architectural expression of the central meeting place within New York’s Fulton Center. Additionally, it provides engineering and technical functionality in the operation and security of the facility.

In 2003 Arup was appointed prime design consultant to the MTA, and since then has led and delivered a wide range of multidisciplinary design services as well as overall planning and project management for the $1.4b transit centre project.

As architect for the Center’s superstructure, Grimshaw Architects designed a three-story glazed pavilion set around a central eight-story dome structure. At the summit, a 53ft. diameter circular skylight known as the oculus is inclined to the southern sky and decorated with glass lenses to capture light and redirect it deep into the station below. The dome interior contains a delicate cable net structure lined with polished aluminum shields that further enhance the luminous quality of the space and reflects the sky scene above.

Through design collaboration between Arup, Grimshaw Architects, and JCDA, the concept of a reflector designed to drive sunlight downward was refined into a steel cable net structure supporting nearly 1,000 coated aluminum infill panels using flexible, universal node connection assemblies.

Composed of 112 tensioned cables, 224 high-strength rods, and nearly 10,000 individual stainless steel components, the design of the steel cable net sculpture emphasises simplicity of construction and optimal performance in all environmental conditions. Arup developed 815 unique scenarios based on the possible permutations of air pressure, indoor temperature, and building movement within the Fulton Center dome. Each scenario produced a slightly different cable net shape. The net will assume these shapes over the course of its lifetime as the environmental conditions within the space change. The Fulton Center cable net is a powerful example of the capacity of a large tensile structure to define a landmark public space.

Opening in June 2014, the Fulton Center is a modern subway interchange that revitalises post 9/11 Lower Manhattan.