The “Times Electronic Square Garden” installation is meant to initiate a reflection about climate change, energy use and green urban spaces. This life-sized garden-like artifact lived for 24 hours in the middle of Times Square and it was designed by New York University students. The public was invited to immerse and interact with this earth bomb that features speakers and live sensors.

Co-Principal Investigators: Mitchell Joachim, Louise Harpman, Peder Anker.

NYU ITP: Renata Kuba, Namira Abdulgani, Kylin Chen, Ella Dagan, Jordan Frand, Michelle Hessel, Gal Nissim, Isabel Paez, Tigran Paravyan, Lutfiadi Rahmanto, Leslie Ruckman, Abhishek Singh, Edson Soares, Katie Temrowski, Jed Watson, Yang Zhao.

Sponsored by: GDNYU, NYU Gallatin School, Times Square Alliance, NYCxDESIGN, NYU ITP.

Film Media: Keith Miller. / Sound Designer: Shai Pelled and John Salveto.


Bring nature back to the heart of New York concrete jungle by exploring the dynamic relationship between living and non-living elements.


Develop a life-size installation that promotes an immersive experience and produces visual and sound responses when users interact with nature.


We designed and built an open central sphere for visitors to circulate through so that they could encounter a microcosm of hanging gardens.

It is very unlikely that, in your visit to NY, you won’t find an A-frame on the street. Why? Because New York City is always under construction. Very well… We decided to use A-frames to structure our installation and give another function to an everyday object found in NY (plus to encourage recycling).

The design of the structure was the hardest part. We wanted to build a rounded-shape to resemble the Earth planet, without placing any poles inside the structure for support. Our goal was to allow people to walk in and out of the sphere without being aware of the assembly. We believed that was the only way the public could have a genuine interaction with nature.

We modeled many attempts in 3D and we selected the best designs to prototype and assemble.
During the process of designing, assembling and revising, we were able to intersect wood strips to hold the A-frames together.
To give closure to our sphere, we laser cut leaves pattern on white panels to cover each A-frame.

Time Square Electronic Garden: Time-lapse from Kylin Chen on Vimeo.

Grass balls and sensors

We invited people to explore soothing living vegetative surfaces and recognize the stark contrast of their hyper-electrified surroundings. The grass balls had optical fibers that would light up when users touch the grass balls. The responsiveness is enlarged when multiple users interact simultaneously. We wanted our installation to react to people and invite them to reflect on their relation with nature. The hearing sense was also evoked when users get closer to the grass balls, triggering off speakers to produce music and connect the public with nature even deeper. The more people touching the grass balls, the more overlay of sound was produced, having 7 different sound tracks.

Inspired by Ernesto Neto’s work “A Trip into the Ludic”, we used pentyhoses to support our plants.
Around the sphere we created a greenscape of serpentine living benches for rest, gathering, and contemplation.
Growing the plants and placing the optical fibers.
We had three weeks to grow the grass balls inside the pantyhoses.
Arduino UNO, speakers and circuits.


The whole project, start-to-finish, was erected and removed in a 24 hour period on May 10th, 2016. It was a place to reimagine Times Square’s consumer culture into a truly sumptuous environmental future.

A lucky snapshot of Elmo checking out our installation.

It was a truly rewarding experience! Thank you so much team!

Times Square, New York
New York University Architecture + Urban Design