LD Herrick Goldman Applies a Clean Aesthetic to New York Island’s Unique Oasis

by Elation Lighting

An island oasis on the Hudson River west of Manhattan, Little Island @ Pier55 is receiving accolades as a unique arts area and green getaway away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Composed of 132 pot-shaped planters positioned above the water, the topography of the park is home to a lush landscape of hills, walking paths and open lawns. Nestled among the more than 390 species of flowers, trees and shrubs on the island, performance spaces are equipped with IP-rated Elation Professional automated luminaires.

Designed by Heatherwick Studio and landscape architectural firm MNLA, the 2.4-acre man-made island park, funded by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, is a new public park integrating the performing arts. A 687-seat amphitheater with a view of the Hudson, a smaller stage for 200 visitors and an open plaza, are all designed to accommodate a range of programs.

Provide tools, respect aesthetics

In early 2020, just before COVID-19 hit, Josh Weisberg from Navolo Audio-Video engaged Herrick Goldman in the project to help him design and specify the lighting systems. Goldman, Founder and Senior Designer at Evoke Collaborative, was asked to provide a lighting design that met the requirements of a client who placed great emphasis on aesthetics. “Sir. Diller didn’t want to distract from the beauty of the project, so we paid special attention to maintaining a very clean look,” Goldman explains. “My job was not only to navigate this area, but also to provide the necessary tools to all those who performed in the amphitheater. ”

Goldman worked with Little Island Production Manager Kelsey Martinez and Audio and Lighting Supervisor Patrick Lachance to create looks that were both useful and visually pleasing with focus points, presets and pallets that incoming designers or park lighting technicians might have on hand. All lighting for Little Island was provided by WorldStage.

Little Island is an urban oasis of art and performance space created in the Hudson River. Photo by Michael Grimm
Find the perfect plot

The amphitheater, nicknamed The Amph, sits at the western end of Little Island. The architects designed six poles in the park around the amphitheater, which has a thrust stage 35 feet wide by 54 feet deep with an audience on three sides and the Hudson River to the west. Wanting to find an ideal fit for the space and needing an IP65 rated platform to withstand New York’s extreme weather conditions, the layout and lighting specs have undergone several changes. “We went through seven or eight different iterations,” Goldman explains, “starting with a more theatrical plot with areas of actors. This led to the need for too many light fixtures, which neither fit within budget. nor the Clean Aesthetic Directive After discussions with the customer about a “lighter, cleaner” pitch, a visit to the WorldStage store in New York followed to demonstrate the There, Goldman auditioned several fixtures from Elation’s Paladin and Proteus series, ultimately choosing the Paladin â„¢, an LED wash / strob / blinder hybrid with zoom, and Elation’s 50,000 Proteus Maximus â„¢ LED moving head. lumens.


Goldman says that instead of setting up a load of PAR canisters, which would have looked crowded, he chose to mount eight Paladins on each mast. “With a three-quarter push scene, you have to illuminate from each audience member’s point of view, not just from an angle, so you have to cover 270 degrees. Once we mounted the Paladins and lit them, we made them bigger and they covered the entire amphitheater, including the seats, in a giant wash of saturated color. The throw distance and intensity was amazing, “he said, adding,” Even though you spent a year specifying the lights and used them in the store, until they installed, you’re still a little unsure – but the Paladins have done well.


A pair of Proteus Maximus LED moving heads hang below the Paladin fixtures on each pole to form a flexible configuration that gives guest artists a plethora of options. “We can have someone playing in the center of the stage and hit them with four Proteus to cover all the angles and have another 8 Proteus to decorate the stage,” Goldman says. “We can insert a gobo and zoom out to cover the scene in texture, which really adds to the tone of the scene. It is really very beautiful and everyone is very happy. Mast throws range from 80 to 150 feet with all Proteus programmed to focus on one of 16 different areas.

white balance

The designer says one of the first things he does when he starts to create the look on stage is build what he calls a show white. “Because I’m not the end user and there are so many potential shows coming up, even a fashion show or a movie shoot for example, I want to give them a choice of daylight color. , 5600K, 5200K, 4800K, all up to 2700K. When he turned on the Paladins and used his light meter to try and hit those values, the white balance for each of the light spots was excellent. “I knew the CRI was 72 to around 84 which is great for an LED wash, but when it came to balance I figured they could be a little green or a little pink. – but as we played with them, especially adding and subtracting the white LED chip, we got a really nice color. We were very close to the target each time, which made it very easy for me. Then, he said, they turned to the Maximus. “We activated the CTO dial on the Maximus and hit all of the white balance goals so easily that we barely had to dial another color to get there. “

The Glade Photo by Michael Grimm
The meadow

With nature and art as symbiotic elements, the island garden offers other smaller spaces for even more intimate performances. The Glade, on the south side of Little Island, is a sloping seating and grass area that can accommodate 200 people. Here, eight PAR Elation SixPar 200 IP â„¢ lamps and a pair of Paladins provide simple color-changing lighting for the 16-foot-wide array. Paladins, used for the frontal light of around 60 feet, can zoom in on someone sitting on a stool or zoom in wide enough to cover a group.

Little Island opened on May 21 to praise and applause from local New Yorkers and visitors alike. The new park hosts a diverse lineup of programming, the majority free, with a schedule that includes local artists, headliners, pop-up art experiences, and gender-focused week-long festivals. • • •

Hearing the operator

Little Island recently wrapped up its first season hosting a wide variety of performance art. We asked the Little Island team to better understand the project.

What was the inspiration for the design of the park?

Heatherwick Studio explored the idea of ​​designing a new pier that could tap into the remaining wooden piers of Pier 54. MNLA’s landscaping was designed as a leaf floating on water – a space that could be left behind. both visually surprising and inspiring for New York City.

The two firms combined architectural innovation with a captivating landscape to offer visitors an oasis of city life where they could play, relax, imagine and eat.

What needs was this project designed for?

We always wanted the park to be a place where people could come together in community. Due to the pandemic, we hadn’t anticipated that Little Island would be the site of so many emotional reunions. We have seen tears and hugs from family and friends who haven’t seen each other for a long time. There is a lot of joy in that.

How was the type of performing arts spaces to be included in the project determined?

Pier 54 has a long history with performance. It was once the Dance Pier for Pride and it also hosted concerts at the time. The idea was to bring the arts back to this same dock where it existed before.

Tell us about the type of art presented in the first year.

We featured dance, music, spoken word, puppetry, mime, opera, circus and more. If you can name it, we probably hosted it in our first season.

Why did you decide to use professional theater lighting?

We have chosen equipment specifically to withstand bad weather and highlight the incredible diversity of artistic disciplines that we welcome.

What do you think makes the park ideal for performance art?

The beauty of the natural environment combined with the unique public aspect of the park make it a truly unique place to enjoy a show. •