"I am obsessed with urban spectacles," says George Tsypin, the designer of the luminous fiberglass fish that, after more than 10 years and $16 millionhalf in public funds, half in private donationshave finally begun swimming round and round the SeaGlass Carousel, opening today at the Battery.
And a spectacle it is! The nautilus-looking building of the carousel, conceived by WXY Architecture, houses 30 of Tsypin's glowing ocean creatures, some of which are 13.5 feet tall and 9.5 feet wide. And these swimmers don't just go in a boring ol' circle either. All of the ride's mechanisms are set underneath the floor, allowing SeaGlass to embed three smaller turntables within the large main spinner. Fish are rotating two different ways, bouncing up and down, yawing up to 160 degrees, everything designed to simulate swim patterns as much as possible. "It's a living organism," says Tsypin.
The below-the-floor engineering also eliminates that center pole you see in all other carouselsthe Battery Conservancy believes this to be the only such ride of its kindallowing for an unobstructed view of the entire sea in motion. And each fish has four speakers to provide a surround-sound experience for its rider (the playlist consists of specially commissioned classical remixes), though music was pretty negligible during yesterday's test runs, so here's hoping they crank it up a bit in the future.
The ride's oceanic theme is an homage to the original New York Aquarium, which stood on the site from 1896 to 1941, until Robert Moses tore it down to build one of his car tunnels. The carousel is set within the newly landscaped Woodland Gardens, which, because of one of the grasses they use near the ride, at this time of year smells remarkably like cilantro.
Rides on the Seaglass Carousel cost $5 and last about three and a half minutes. For today's opening festivities, the hours are 1:00 p.m. to midnight; thereafter SeaGlass will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.