Skyscape is a bespoke light art installation, spanning the length of the ceiling at the new west end concourse of the Moynihan Train Hall, Penn Station, New York City. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) for client Moynihan Station Development Corporation, with lighting design & manufacture by The Light Lab, in collaboration with artists Studio miriamandtom.
Peter Fajak, Associate Designer at SOM, describes how their initial proposal was to “create a fully animated digital sky in a variety of different media with edge lit glass fins, backlit ceilings and digital media screens”. Effectively ‘bringing the sky’ and an “above ground quality” to the dark underground transit tunnel; “Filling an underground world with sky & light, to transform it into a habitable environment.”
The project contractor Skanska & and electrical contractor Welsbach, commissioned bespoke lighting manufacturers The Light Lab to work on the design and build of this ‘digital sky’, using their bespoke edge-lit glass product Spectraglass. The Light Lab designed & manufactured an easy-fit support structure and LED glass fins to fill the expanse of the 15’x300’ ft ceiling. The brief included making all the services above the fins easily accessible, so the design mounted the fins on easy slide carriages on precision rails. The 2,000 pixels of RGBW LED light, softened through the glass, gives a gentle, calming sense of space in an otherwise confined and overcrowded space and has been very well received by the harassed commuters, as they wait for the full redevelopment of the station. They called on the services of Studio miriamandtom to create ‘Skyscape’, an animated and voluminous sky scene that drifts across the ceiling, whose deft touch gives the piece its true class.
“Light is what sets our body clock and determines our daily existence”, says Tom Sloan from miriamandtom. “The sky is the symbol of the daily occurrence which lends itself to create an atmospheric contrast to routine and subterranean context of the station. It provides a tranquil space for escapism and daydreaming.”
Skyscape brings a bright, fresh and futuristic atmosphere to the commuter experience in the new west end concourse.
SOM’s design of the new West End Concourse significantly increases the concourse space in the station complex, improves pedestrian access with new station entries on Eighth Avenue, relieves congestion by providing access to the western ends of existing platforms, and transforms the travel experience for hundreds of thousands of New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road riders. The integration of digital lighting and wayfinding displays throughout the concourse make an informative and enjoyable environment. This state-of-the-art transportation facility creates a public space that offers a tangible link to New York’s grand history while adding much-needed capacity to the region’s rail system.
Winner: 2018 Masterworks NYC ‘Best New Infrastructure’
Shortlisted: DARC Awards 2017 ‘Best Light Art Scheme – High Budget’
Photography © Andras Kare / miriamandtom