PROJECTS: Night and Day
NIGHT AND DAY Shade Canopy
“Hopkins’ place amongst the stars”
Recently, the City of Hopkins, Minnesota completed the renovation of their main downtown pedestrian and vehicular artery, which includes a small plaza at its center. At this center point, the city wanted to add a shade canopy to act as a community gathering space and outdoor performance venue. In addition, they wanted the canopy to identify Hopkins in a meaningful and unique way.
Hopkins has a rich tradition of metal manufacturing. In addition there is an annual stargazing event that has taken place for decades at their Eisenhower Observatory. Using Hopkins unique longitude and latitude (44.9261 Degrees North, 93.4044 Degrees West), and working with NASA and the European Space Agency’s star mapping databases, we were able to map the exact formation of stars as seen directly above Hopkins on June 21st, 2018 (the summer solstice of the year the Artery officially opened ). Once the stars were mapped, their locations were laser cut into a set of pie-shaped aluminum panels that bolt together to create a shallow, 20’ diameter dome. Four sizes of perforations were used to indicate the distances of the various stars from Hopkins (based on calculated magnitudes of brightness).This dome was then suspended from 4 cantilevered
columns via a series of post-tensioned, stainless steel rods. An x-shaped foundation was developed and poured that ties the cable suspension system together. This structural solution not only allowed for a canopy that looks and feels like it is “suspended in air”, but also minimized the cross section of the steel columns, reduced the amount of concrete needed in the foundation and still met all the
necessary live, wind, and dead load requirements.
In order to activate the space under the canopy at night, but minimize the impact on the environment and the electrical grid, a solar powered “sunlight” was introduced at the canopy’s center. During the day, the sun charges up a battery bank via a 150 watt solar panel array built into the center top of the disc and wired to an LED panel below. At dusk, a sensor turns on the “sun”, thus bringing the day to the night, extending the usefulness of the plaza, and creating a space that can be used as an evening gathering space or outdoor performance venue. The slight curvature of the panels helps focus both light and sound on the space beneath the canopy, avoiding excessive light pollution to the surrounding area, while also providing natural sound amplification.
Photos by: Corey Gaffer
Landscape/Masterplan: Bolton Menk