The Excavating Wilderness: A [re]Orienting Trajectory Across Central Park proposal by Syracuse University graduate Jeff Kamuda investigates the tensioning between natural wilderness and the built environment. With the rise of modern civilization, a fluctuating tenet between humans and nature can be observed in its reincarnation of the urban park. Situated in New York City’s Central Park, the project introduces a set of natural phenomena through a unique and atypical approach, which in turn serves to stimulate a dialogue between the individual, the park, the city, and the cosmos. Stretching a mile across Central Park from Grand Army Plaza at 59th street to the American Museum of Natural History at 77th Street, the triparted project achieves a dramatic juxtaposition of subterranean experience combined with elevated architecture. Read more after the break.
The aptly named subterranean “Portal” serves as an astronomical device and historical archive. Envisioned as an ever growing repository of the moments of New York City, the exposed stone walls feature inscriptions of the history of the city. A truncated sphere suspended above the void below acts as an orientation device by aligning the observer with Polaris, constructing a metaphysical link between human and cosmos.
A deep incision in the middle of the park – The Canyon – continues the subterranean experience of the Portal. The descent through the structure exposes the distinctive geologic makeup of the island, whilst simultaneously invigorating the experience with waterfalls, melding built environment with that of nature. Exhibition spaces extend out from the main volume connecting with the nearby mall and sheep’s meadow. As the descent continues, a wall of memories comprised of millions of translucent panels caches the personal memories and genetic data of the individuals who have experienced the space, serving as a genealogical hybrid.
Five sets of twin towers located along the northern portion of the site cast site lines that align themselves with the city grid – marking the cosmic event of Manhattanhenge four times annually. This event – unique to New York – is brought to life when the sun aligns with the city grid and casts rays of light down the streets, passing through the twin megalithic observation towers. The heights of the towers are designed to take full advantage of the project’s northerly trajectory, anchored by the Museum of Natural History’s Astor turret.