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Friday, October 08, 2010

Heliostats, Ho!

See those three round discs atop the Verdesian in Battery Park City below? Those are heliostats directing sunlight into Teardrop Park South, Michael Van Valkenburgh's extension of his 2006 design across Murray Street. The south but north-facing park is nestled within the U-shaped Riverhouse by Ennead Architects, meaning it doesn't receive any sunlight for many months. Hence the heliostats, casting the spotlights on the paving at the bottom of the photo below.

Teardrop Park South

Spending a few minutes in the park and seeing the heliostats in action -- they redirected themselves once when I was there -- I'm not sure they help bring natural light to the park as much as the surrounding buildings do, at least in terms of ambient light; notice the reflections from windows hitting the side of Riverhouse below. But Van Valkenburgh explains the reflected sunlight is to help trees and plants thrive in the space, aided by the computer programming that allows the heliostats to be focused on specific areas. A water feature is one such area that can re-reflect the light into the space, an indication of how the heliostats influenced the design.

Teardrop Park South

Look out for more heliostats to be installed in the city, in particular as part of Van Valkenburgh's redesign of Jacob Javits Plaza, which I wrote about here.


  1. Great post. Seen some similar proposals on different scales here

  2. Always cool to see one of our projects (positively) mentioned on this site! Carpenter Norris
    Consulting was the daylighting consultant to MVVA on Teardrop Park- among other projects- and if anyone is interested, you can find more info at .

  3. Heliostats are finally getting some recognition. I always wanted one for my very dark, north side living room, but ouch, they have been very expensive. Finally I got a nice consumer grade one from Wikoda Inc. and for a few hundred bucks it does the job nicely.


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