Catalyst architecture2



Interview with Jens Holm, HAO
Producer: Gitte Marling



JANE’S CAROUSEL – A Small Delicate Monument

In the DUMBO historic district between the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge – part of Brooklyn’s new waterfront – an old, beautifully restored carousel has been placed on an elevated concrete foundation in a transparent pavilion. Directly above the carousel is a circular window in the pavilion’s ceiling, which otherwise consists of polished aluminum strips. The roof is supported in each corner by four large, cylindrical steel columns, which are drawn 6 ½ feet back from the façade. The façades facing east and west consist of seven fixed panels of self-supporting acrylic sheets. The façades facing north and south can be folded out and opened completely.

Jean Nouvel calls his small building a ‘jewel box’ and a ‘delicate small monument’ in a city that is otherwise full of large, monumental buildings. The pavilion is of significant branding value for the DUMBO area’s transformation from harbor industry to a creative cultural growth area. Today, Jane’s Carousel functions as a popular meeting place, a magnet that attracts people from Manhattan across to Brooklyn, thereby creating a connection between the two boroughs across the East River. The area around the carousel has become a new dynamic activity space, a public domain where different groups relax and observe each other’s celebrations, lunches, and leisure activities.

“The role of the carousel along the waterfront cannot be underestimated.  It is an example of how a successful collaboration between a private developer and a famous architect can happen. It’s a way where NYC (New York City Council) can utilize private funding to create public space.

By creating a carousel building that is open and accessible almost all year round, they have succeeded in drawing people to the area. The carousel has become a central cornerstone of the park; it’s a massive attraction, which brings people to the waterfront. People who would normally not come here:  families, kids and so on. It expanded the program and the use of the park in itself.  Where you often see parks where people ‘run up and down’ or have a little picnic – you also here have a destination point. It has become more of a scene than a simple park area” (Holm, HAO, interview May 5th 2014).



Jane’s Carousel, Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO, New York

Measurements: 72x72x72 feet

The carousel: Constructed in 1922 by Philadelphia Toboggan Company and restored by artist Jane Walentas in 2011

Pavilion: Designed by Atelier Jean Nouvel

Inaugurated: September 16th 2011

Operation and maintenance of the monument: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation