Infrastructure + Bridges
Photo: Eduard Hueber / Arch Photo
42nd Street Bus Terminal, Triple Bridge Gateway
New York, NY
Port Authority of NY and NJ
PKSB, Flack + Kurtz
Host to thousands of daily commuters and travelers, Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal relies on a complex system of ramps and gates for smooth operations. Four ramps – a set of three metal, I-beam type, and one concrete span Ninth Avenue. They connect the terminal with the region and the country, providing access to the Lincoln Tunnel and other roadways. Prior to the reconstruction project, the pedestrian landscape beneath these ramps was shadowy and dismal.
In 1995, the Port Authority contacted Manhattan Community Board 4 to ascertain the concerns and desires of the local community. Leni Schwendinger was instrumental in the Community Board’s Task Force, which compiled design guidelines through a community involvement process. Subsequently Leni Schwendinger Light Projects and architectural firm, PKSB, proposed a luminous and colorful architectural design solution for pedestrian and vehicular street traffic, winning the commission.
For design approvals, an extensive design and testing process was activated. Testing included color choices and finishes such as mica chips coupled with light beam angles to produce suffusion for an enhanced glow effect, and metal bending techniques for cast ground reflections. Series one tests were held at a film studio and a second, over several nights, in a protected underpass area nearby the site. Leni Schwendinger led this effort.
The design choices – from lighting to color pattern – were selected to emphasize the I-beam engineered structure of the bridges. Metal mesh illuminated by standard lighting fixtures is utilized in innovative ways. Reflective panels produce a carpet of light onto the roadbed creating a luminous room in amid an urban node.
A preprogrammed control system switches on one of four settings each evening in line with Schwendinger’s philosophy to provide a fresh illuminated environment to the public every evening.