Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York

Percent for Art

   James Carpenter

Inclined Light Wall, Laminated glass, mirror, acoustic wall material, 2004


Inclined Light Wall

Completion Date:



Laminated glass, mirror, acoustic wall material




New York Hall of Science


47-01 111th St., Queens


Polshek Partnership LLP

Sponsor Agency:

Department of Cultural Affairs

Design Agency:

Department of Design and Construction

The Inclined Light Wall , described by the artist as a "constantly changing optical painting," makes a dramatic statement centered at the end of the new luminous galleria in the New York Hall of Science. Its overall appearance develops out of the combined optical effects of three elements: a large tilted plane of clear glass panels suspended in space, the white wall behind the panel, and an overhead skylight. A field of mirror dots encapsulated within each panel of the tilted glass plane reflects the activity of people moving below. On the reverse side of each panel (unseen by the viewers) the dot field is a vibrant orange that reflects incoming light onto the wall behind. This white galleria wall is painted with a subtle gray dot pattern that creates a moiré effect blending the two field patterns - orange and gray. The yellow laminated glass skylight directly above the artwork transmits colored light into the space below, animating the gallery with a zone of color that moves across the artwork as the sun transverses the sky. Throughout the course of the day, the three elements continuously shift with the changing light, enticing the viewer towards the artwork to investigate how the artwork's relationship to them changes and from where the mysterious color patterns are coming.

About the Artist...
James Carpenter is considered to be a leading architectural designer and innovator in glass and material technologies, recognized by the American Institute of Architects with an Institute Honor Award in 1991 for "unsurpassed technical expertise and sculptor's sensitivity." He was also just recognized as a "MacArthur Genius." His interest in architecture and structure has evolved into a unique design practice and studio. James Carpenter Design Associates is a multi-disciplinary architectural design firm with a specific focus on the exploration and management of light. For more than thirty years, since receiving his BFA in Sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design, James Carpenter has focused his work on the exploration of light as a means of bringing form to structure and revealing the environment. Exploiting the unique opportunities afforded by the transparency, reflectivity, and structural strength of glass, he seeks to control the intangible force of light as it affects the spatial and temporal boundaries of architectural spaces. The goal is to animate these transitional spaces and engage the viewers in a rich and complex understanding of their surroundings.