Adoption of the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan for New York began the unabashed imposition of a Cartesian street grid on what had previously been a natural landscape. The eventual vertical expression of this unnatural construct has resulted in a fascinating interaction with the one element of the environment left unaffected. The phenomenon of “Manhattanhenge” occurs when, for brief moments on or about May 28th and July 12th, the setting sun aligns directly with the cross streets of the island. In this way, the construction of an artificial landscape has enhanced a natural occurrence.
GRIDhenge seeks to further manipulate this phenomenon with a new intervention in order to reassert and celebrate the spatial experience of the entire grid. Just as the setting sun aligns exactly to wash the cross streets with a blazing amber glow, concentrated large-scale beams of contrasting artificial light will simultaneously stream up the avenues starting at Houston Street. Thus the entire grid is highlighted by light, connecting everyone below with a unified visual experience.