In most projects, a handrail is the kind of detail that could be easily value engineered down to a sturdy steel part. Which is why the amount of innovation displayed by the LED Handrail System that New York–based James Carpenter Design Associates designed for the Pier C waterfront park in Hoboken, N.J., was so interesting to the jury. Supported by stainless steel stanchions, LEDs housed in a flexible mesh tube cast a soft glow on both the surface of the water and the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates–designed esplanade. The light also causes the woven-metal balustrade to shimmer day and night. “I’ve walked this, and it’s quite beautiful, it’s tactile,” says juror Sylvia Smith.
The jury was especially impressed that Carpenter had given so much consideration to the handrail’s production. He borrowed cost-efficient tubes made for the filtration industry and had the modular pieces (which can be easily adopted for other applications) load tested for 200 pounds of pressure, proving that the system can be bent and can withstand heavy wear and tear while not interrupting the illumination. “I thought that was fascinating,” juror William Massie says.