NYC Waterfalls: Rendering vs. Reality

There have been many opinions voiced here about Olfar Eliason’s NYC Waterfalls, the public art project on display this summer under the Brooklyn Bridge, on the Brooklyn Heights waterfront and at other locations along the East River.  In general, the reaction from the BHB community has been that of disappointment.  This despite the fact that New York Times art critic Roberta Smith tells us that the falls are best viewed up close rather than from a distance as most people have seen them so far.  Is this disappointment based upon high expectations built up by the artist renderings released earlier this year?  Are we just feeling let down?  Judge for yourself:

And here’s recent waterfalls tidbit: some Canadian dude says he came up with the concept first (sorta) 30 years ago.

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  • Sandy Ikeda

    In my blog, “Culture of Congestion,” at the New York Sun website, I echoed this disappointment. Here’s the URL to that post if anyone’s interested:

    However, I’ll keep an open mind…it’s already starting to grow on me day by day. For me the entire installation is best viewed from a distance — say, from Pier 17 in Lower Manhattan.

  • JJ

    uh.. the actual and rendering isn’t even of the same location.

  • Jazz

    Hence “rendering’ JJ. There’s been some construction over there if you hadn’t noticed.

  • nabeguy

    As a totally inaccurate rendering, it gives the false impression of a tower that soars above the background, rather than being lost in it. And, recent construction aside, I doubt the trees on the Promenade have grown that much since the rendering was first done.
    Say what you will about Christo, at least his “renderings” are based on actual locales.

  • clarknt67

    I agree, the reality is a disappointment over the renderings. The renderings make the water look so majestic, so Niagra Falls like. But in reality it just kinda pours over it like a fountain than a fall. Additionally, the scaffolding overwhelms the water, it looks huge & imposing, which it didn’t in the renderings.

    Oh well, it’s nice, but not what I was expecting.

  • http://BrooklynHeightsBlog Karl

    I have enjoyed looking and listening to the falls at the new area added recently at the Brooklyn Bridge Park with a couple glasses of wine. The sound is very relaxing. Also nice at sunset from this great location. I recommend a visit to the bar for wine or a beer. Senator Schumer was there last night. Before my visit to the falls I ate dinner at Noodle Pudding and caught a glimpse of Paul Giamatti better known as John Adams. I’m star crossed. Love the Heights.

  • Ethan

    I agree, its a total dissapointment. From the promenade (which is where most people are standing) it looks so stupid. All we see is 120 feet of scaffolding (as if we don’t see enough of that in BK Heights) and a trickle of water that is broken up by even the slightest of breezes. Its not even on and lit up at night!

    Furthermore, because of the BQE, you can’t even hear the water hitting the river. He should have given me half of the 15 mill. I would have pissed in the river and kicked him in the nuts. Same effect and it would have saved the moma 7 mill.

    Worst waterfall ever.

  • df

    Great, Ethan.

    Pathetic waterfalls. Just a gardenhose strung over a freakin’ scaffolding tower. Almost an eyesore. And downright fraudulent compared to the renderings.

  • bibi

    how sharper than a serpent’s tooth is the pang of disappointment, or as we say in Brooklyn: It bites.

  • jenny from the block

    Ok I see that the rendering is not in the same exact location as the photo but the waterfall still looks very similar in both. I did not like the waterfalls at the beginning, and I agree that it looks like scaffolding, but come on it’s not that bad. It’s kind of nice and something different. I myself never expected Niagra Falls or anything like that. And I NEVER expected to be able to Hear the water falling. I don’t believe any of the plans for the waterfalls ever called for noise reduction regarding the BQE. But I do not feel misled or upset about the waterfalls being there. They are growing on me and I have come to think they are kind of cool.

  • brewster

    Wouldn’t this money been better spent elsewhere? Even if it is private money.

  • df

    is there anyone who can sue anyone else here?

    lawsuit! lawsuit!

  • Jazz

    Most of the money was Bloomberg’s. $13.5 of the $15 million total.

  • arbor

    haters! all haters! it looks great from the manhattan bridge subways!

  • No One Of Consequence

    But that would require leaving Brooklyn… who does that?

  • brewster

    It was his money? Imagine what $15 million could of done for the New York City School System?

  • Andrew Porter

    Apparently it looks much better from the front. So we see the butt-end view. Brooklyn screwed again so Manhattan can have a pretty picture.

  • HDEB

    To give some perspective about the cost of the waterfalls the Department of Education budget for financial year 2008 is $16,974,358,879.
    $15 million represent less than 0.09% of the total NYC DOE annual budget.

  • ratNYC

    My building is in the actual photo. he.

  • joe

    its a little underwhelming. there is too much scaffolding, not monumental enough and not enough water power. I’ve seen it both close and far away and from Brooklyn and Manhattan. I can’t help but think its needs to be bigger and at least two more instance of it.

  • Teddy

    It only looks marginally better from the front. Just like a lot of things in this city, the reality doesn’t live up to the hype or in this case the renderings.

  • bornhere

    Oh, brother. I finally saw the waterfalls this afternoon, albeit, from the Promenade. Had I not known that they are “art,” I would have assumed there is some sort of multilocation, waste-disposal activity going on. I see nothing edifying; and I’m trying to get my head around Bloomberg raving about the “genius” of the artist. I’m not an artist, so I tend not to think great, creative thoughts; but all I can think here is “art is anything you can get away with,” and that doesn’t necessarily make it neat — it sometimes makes it, literally, remarkable. Other remarkable things include a horrible case of poison ivy, hating puppies, loving “American Idol,” etc. Nothing arty, only remarkable.

  • nelson

    Oh my! Bloomberg….and his art….? How did the Brookyn Hts Association allow this horrible oil derek to be constructed above the height of the Promenade. I was under the impression that nothing was allowed to interfer with the view from the Promenade. This really is an ugly thing to behold (backside) Maybe Manhattan has a better view, so what are the bus loads of tourists coming here for….this is a case of the emperor’s clothes, don’t ya think?