Unicef Crystal Snowflake New York, USA Client United States Fund for Unicef Manufacturers Ingo Maurer, Baccarat (Crystals) light sources 16 halogen metal halide spots, 84 halogen spots, 24 stroboscopes, 300 LED blinkers Duration of construction 5 months Completion date November 2005
Photographers Tom Vack www.tomvack.com
Jonathan B. Ragle www.jonathanragle. com
Nacasa & Partners www.nacasa.co.jp
Gracing the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan, Ingo Maurer’s giant snowflake shines bright. The light – the world’s largest outdoor crystal chandelier – represents a new direction in the work of a man originally recognized for his small-scale products. Maurer calls the chandelier ‘one of the biggest challenges of my career. It involved not only creativity but extensive technical engineering and a lot of handcraft.’ Invited by children’s fund UNICEF to redesign the traditional symbol, Maurer created an apt addition to the city’s artificial winter. UNICEF calls the object ‘a beacon of hope, peace and compassion for vulnerable children around the world’. Installed in 2005, the crystal structure is 40 percent larger than its predecessor, also designed by Maurer, which illuminated the same spot in 2004. During construction, the new snowflake – consisting of 12 double-sided steel branches, with an overall diameter of 7 m – underwent several alterations. Each two-part section is adorned with crystals front and back, and is lined with an additional seven halogen spots that highlight the structure from within. Maurer’s staff mounted nearly 16,000 crystals, manufactured by French company Baccarat, onto the frame before installing 16 halogen metal halide spots, 84 halogen spots, 24 stroboscopes and 300 LED blinkers, for a grand total of 7520 watts. They managed to meet the tight deadline, which the designer believes was eased by the noble cause. ‘The snowflake involved months of intensive labour, often seven days a week, but everyone was most happy to contribute as much as possible to the cause. I am happy to continue my nonprofit work for the relief organization.’ The outdoor setting brought with it a fresh set of challenges for Maurer, who is more familiar with smallerscale designs, generally aimed at indoor use. Here he had to create a product capable of withstanding the city’s severe winter weather. At the same time, he needed technical components that would be as small as possible yet quite powerful – the finished product boasts an integrated cooling system. Building on the success of the first snowflake, which ‘endured a blizzard with a wind speed of 110 mph without blackouts or loss of crystals, making us very proud’, Maurer managed to install the second piece without any mishaps: all crystals remained intact throughout the entire installation process. Despite the addition of 4000 extra crystal prisms and a weight of approximately 1500 kg, the chandelier retains an air of fragility, appearing light and delicate against the ultra-urban skyline of New York City. Positioned above an intersection that links two main thoroughfares, the snowflake glistens like a guiding light, thanks to a combination of focused spotlights
and tiny flashing lights filling the air with movement. During the day, crystals catch the sunlight and play with reflections, while at night the clear glass prisms are emphasized by cold white light: a crisp refulgent contrast to the dim orange glow of the city. Spreading from the main beam in the middle, a diffusion of light illuminates the arms of the structure – defined at the ends with flashing blue tips. Elevating a section of the city, the snowflake draws the eye away from the claustrophobic grey landscape and invites the observer to consider the world beyond. Grammy-winning musician and producer Quincy Jones lit the Snowflake for the first time on 28 November 2005. In conjunction with this lighting ceremony, UNICEF celebrated its second annual Snowflake Ball, organized by Baccarat, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Published on Apr 24, 2008
Published on Apr 24, 2008
Bright features 38 exterior lighting design from around the wordl. Challenging projects from toplevvel manufacturers, designers and artists...