Maglin Moves Manhattan
The Battery Oval
In June 2016, the Battery Conservancy of New York City proudly cut the ribbon and opened the Battery Oval; the revitalized grand lawn in The Battery (formerly Battery Park), one of Manhattan’s most historic public spaces. The Oval’s new signature outdoor furniture was also debuted. Formed into the shape of a blooming flower, hundreds of blue Battery Chairs filled the Oval that day.
Manufactured by Maglin Site Furniture, the Battery Chair was unlike typical New York City outdoor seating. These chairs were moveable, stackable and suitable for people of all abilities. Visitors to the park could easily pick up and reposition a chair anywhere within the Oval. The moveable chairs gave park visitors a chance to create their own outdoor space within the country’s most heavily populated city.
For hundreds of years The Battery played an important role in the growth of New York City, and the United States. In fact, The Battery was the country’s first immigrant receiving center, pre-dating Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. But over the years the historic space had fallen into disrepair. “(T)his park was not a destination; it was the bleak area you hurried through to get to the ferries going to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis and Staten Islands.1 In 1994 things started to change for The Battery. Warrie Price, a veteran of New York City’s government and community planning boards, founded The Battery Conservancy; a not–for–profit educational corporation to rebuild and revitalize The Battery.
Price stated, “I was drawn to The Battery because it is the first or second impression people around the world have of New York City. This is a birthplace park—the park land most continuously in use in all of the five boroughs.2 The Battery was on its way to becoming a newly invigorated and sustainable public space in Lower Manhattan.
The Battery Contest
Four years before the Battery Chair’s debut, the Battery Conservancy put a call out to designers across the Americas to “Draw Up A Chair.” The contest challenged them to “Design an iconic moveable outdoor seat for The Battery.” The chair was going to be a major element in The Battery’s journey to becoming an outdoor space where “Downtown will come to rest, eat, and enjoy live performances.3 Nearly 700 submissions to the “Draw Up A Chair” challenge arrived from across North and South America. The entries were narrowed down to 50, and then to 5. The public was invited to a “See, Sit and Select” exhibit within the park, to give feedback on the five chair prototypes. Finally, an internationally renowned jury, with members from the Museum of Modern Art and the New York Times, chose Canadian designer Andrew Jones’ submission.
Jones’ design for the iconic chair was inspired by “imagining how a field of chairs could poetically respond to the lawn of the Battery Oval, a major meeting ground for Lower Manhattan. Using a single chair in repetition, the view across the Battery Oval is transformed by the whimsical suggestion of sun-loving flowers.4 About the chair, Warrie Price proudly stated, “The Battery Conservancy is known for design excellence. This award-winning design helps us build the brand for The Battery.”
With the design in place, Maglin Site Furniture was brought on to manufacture the Battery’s iconic blue chairs. Price stated, “We have Maglin as the manufacturer, known for extraordinarily well designed and well-constructed furniture.”
Working closely with Jones, the Maglin team efficiently streamlined the design for production purposes. “At first glance the chair may appear as more of an ornamental piece,” said Aaron Dawson, Maglin’s Director of Manufacturing, “but the slightly reclined seat and single piece stainless steel frame form an extremely comfortable and durable product.” A total of 300 chairs were built in three shades of blue exclusive to The Battery.
Once the Oval chairs were complete, Maglin Site Furniture moved forward as the sole manufacturer and distributor of the Battery Chair. Keeping the signature shades of blue exclusive to the park, Maglin introduced their Battery line in a variety of colors: orange, green, purple, yellow and ivory. The line was expanded to include Café and Lounge Tables that kept with Jones’ design properties. Upon introducing the collection, Ian McAskile, president and founder of Maglin Site Furniture, stated, “The Battery Collection is not only a new line for Maglin, it is a fresh new approach to thinking about the ways that color and ornamental aspects can bring a touch of playfulness to the whole (site furniture) industry.”
Since its launch, the story of the Battery Collection has captured the attention of the design community. About the journey from concept to completion, Warrie Price says, “For Maglin and ourselves the focus was on bringing great design to the public, to use freely and openly in a public park – and the fact that now it is offered to others is thrilling. It belongs in terraces, balconies, backyards, front yards, (and) sunrooms.5
By satisfying the needs of New York City’s Battery Oval, the Battery Chair proved its worth in any public environment. From campuses to courtyards, the clean design and solid construction of the Battery Collection lends itself to an endless variety of styles and spaces.
For more information on The Battery Conservancy and Battery Oval, visit http://www.thebattery.org/
For more information on Maglin's Battery Collection visit http://www.maglin.com/products/battery/batterycollection.html
5 Maglin Site Furniture. (2016). Introducing The Battery Collection: Maglin Site Furniture launches exclusive competition-winning design from famed Manhattan park [Press Release]
Company: Maglin Site Furniture
Product: The Battery Collection
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