6-acre light installation at proposed Midtown East casino site to open in December

November 2, 2023

All renderings courtesy of the Soloviev Foundation

A sprawling light installation coming to the site of a proposed casino in Midtown East is opening next month. Designed by Bruce Munro, Field of Light at Freedom Plaza includes 17,000 low-light, fiber-optic stemmed spheres that change hues and create a dreamlike landscape across six acres near the United Nations headquarters. Free tickets are now available to book to visit the installation, which officially debuts December 15. The display is financed by the Soloviev Group, which owns the vacant land and is looking to build a mixed-use development called Freedom Plaza, anchored by a casino.

“Field of Light at Freedom Plaza stands for boundless imagination and the freedom to dream. It is my hope that it warms hearts and inspires both young and old to take from it and create something of their own to pass on to others,” Munro said.

The Soloviev Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Sololiev Group, is spending roughly $1.5 million to finance the light installation and maintain it, according to the New York Times. Michael Hershman, CEO of the Soloviev Group, told the Times that the installation is a “gift to New York.”

“New York City has always been and continues to be a global epicenter of freedom and the creative spirit,” Hershman said. “We are thrilled to share this transformative experience with our community and the world.”

The Soloviev Group is one of many developers contending for three casino licenses up for grabs in the New York City area, as 6sqft previously reported. Earlier this year, the developer unveiled its proposal to build Freedom Plaza, a 1,200-room hotel, two residential towers with condo and rental units, more than four acres of public green space, and a human rights museum that will display slabs from the Berlin Wall.

Freedom Plaza would be anchored by a partially subterranean casino operated by Mohegan. The initial proposal also included plans to construct a giant Ferris wheel on the site, but that idea has been abandoned.

Freedom Plaza rendering by Negativ

To make its proposal even more appealing, Soloviev Group last month announced the project would be designed by renowned architects at Bjarke Ingels Group and include more than 500 permanently affordable apartments. As 6sqft reported, the two high-rise apartment towers would share a podium and include 1,325 total homes, including 513 studio to three-bedroom apartments priced below the market rate.

Field of Light will be on view for 12 months and will be open from Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The installation’s December dates are already sold out, so reserve tickets for January here while you still can.

Editor’s Note 11/2/23: The original version of this article was published on September 21, 2023, and has since been updated with information on the installation’s opening.


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