DUMBO: Interview with Jens Holm, Holm Architectural Office, New York

Gitte Marling, Hans Kiib

Research output: Other contributionNet publication - Internet publicationResearch


In the DUMBO historic district between the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge – part of Brooklyn’s new waterfront – an old, beautifully restored carousel has been placed on an elevated concrete foundation in a transparent pavilion. Directly above the carousel is a circular window in the pavilion’s ceiling, which otherwise consists of polished aluminum strips. The roof is supported in each corner by four large, cylindrical steel columns, which are drawn 6 ½ feet back from the façade. The façades facing east and west consist of seven fixed panels of self-supporting acrylic sheets. The façades facing north and south can be folded out and opened completely.

Jean Nouvel calls his small building a ‘jewel box’ and a ‘delicate small monument’ in a city that is otherwise full of large, monumental buildings. The pavilion is of significant branding value for the DUMBO area’s transformation from harbor industry to a creative cultural growth area. Today, Jane’s Carousel functions as a popular meeting place, a magnet that attracts people from Manhattan across to Brooklyn, thereby creating a connection between the two boroughs across the East River. The area around the carousel has become a new dynamic activity space, a public domain where different groups relax and observe each other’s celebrations, lunches, and leisure activities.

“The role of the carousel along the waterfront cannot be underestimated. It is an example of how a successful collaboration between a private developer and a famous architect can happen. It’s a way where NYC (New York City Council) can utilize private funding to create public space.

By creating a carousel building that is open and accessible almost all year round, they have succeeded in drawing people to the area. The carousel has become a central cornerstone of the park; it’s a massive attraction, which brings people to the waterfront. People who would normally not come here: families, kids and so on. It expanded the program and the use of the park in itself. Where you often see parks where people ‘run up and down’ or have a little picnic – you also here have a destination point. It has become more of a scene than a simple park area” (Holm, HAO, interview May 5th 2014).
Translated title of the contributionDUMBO: Interview med Jens Holm, Holm Architectural Office, New York
Original languageEnglish
Publication date27 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2015


  • Architecture
  • Catalyst
  • Social Citizenship
  • Cultural Citizenship
  • Hybrid design
  • Ateliers Jean Nouvel
  • New York


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