Movable Planters

When Google expanded their New York City headquarters into Pier 57, they incorporated a rooftop patio garden with twenty-four 10 x 10 foot aluminum planters. Uni-Systems Engineering designed the mechanization system that drives eighteen of the planters to the edges of the patio to reconfigure the space as an outdoor theater.

Each mechanized planter is supported by four stainless steel wheels that roll along a pair of galvanized steel rails between the patio area and the outer edges. The wheels on one rail are flanged to constrain lateral movement, and the other wheels are non-flanged to prevent unwanted lateral loads. Rail length varies between 20-50 feet, with half the rails supporting a single planter and the other half supporting two planters.

Each planter is driven by a closed loop cable drive installed out of sight below the rooftop pavers. A thin knife plate extends from the bottom of each planter box and attaches to the steel cable. The cable is rotated around an idler pulley and a cable drive by a 0.25 horsepower electric motor.

When operation is initiated from a tablet interface, each planter automatically ramps up to move 9.7 feet per minute, and automatically ramps down to a stop when it reaches the end of travel. The planters travel between the two positions in 1-3 minutes depending on rail length, and the entire space can be reconfigured in approximately 30 minutes.

General Information

Description: Movable planters
Completed: 2020
Location: Pier 57, New York City
Scope of Work: Design
Project Client: Google

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