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Project Leaders 

Nina Edwards Anker and Amy Pryor

Electrical Engineering

Michael Edwards from Avioworks

Drafting and Digital Fabrication

Shahira Hammad

Materials: cedar wood, reinforced plexiglass, photovoltaic panels/modules


For the 100th Anniversary of the Bronx Exposition of Science, Art and Industries in Starlight Park we proposed a functional seating/lighting installation titled Big Dipper Bench. This temporary art installation consists of seven solar-powered stars on wooden block pedestals, connected by six benches. The pedestals’ dimensions are approximately 16” x 16” x 16” and the benches vary in length from 7’ to 12’.


The shape and style of this illuminating bench is a nod to the environment and its inhabitants. The bench not only creates a playful interaction with its’ surroundings, but is a graphic replication of the Big Dipper constellation, a universal icon. The Big Dipper contains one of the brightest stars in the sky, and cited in various mythologies dating back to the first century. For this reason, the bench stands out to travelers who will be drawn to its location, while also orienting them in space with a clearly marked engraved arrow pointing north. The drainage crack in between the two wooden slats is painted red to visually connect the stars of the constellation.

Mirroring the view of the vast night sky it faces, this solid seating/lighting installation ties earth, body and cosmos by encouraging resting and social interaction in this bucolic spot of the Bronx River Park. As well as offering seating and lighting to its’ inhabitants, the Big Dipper Bench has been designed with sustainability in mind. It is not only built out of local and environmentally friendly wooden materials, but also incorporates photovoltaic cells on its surface to generate electricity. The green technology reflects the spirit of scientific innovation of the 1918 Bronx Exposition of Science, Art and Industries in Starlight Park.

Because of light pollution it is often difficult to see stars at night in New York City. But the Big Dipper is an important exception. We would like to create a piece of public art that serves several purposes at the same time – that commemorates the 1918 Expo, and the subsequent popular activity of dancing under the stars, that provides a place to rest, that produces illumination at night using solar panels, and that functions as a map to help familiarize Bronx residents with the night sky.

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