South End Library Park's LightWell Installation Expected to Take Place Next Week, as Minor Manufacturing Delays of the Urban/Environmental Sustainability Project Appear Resolved

  The mold for the LightWell under construction in Bristol, RI

The two LightWells that were supposed to be installed last month are on track to become part of South End Library Park's landscape in the next week, according to Michelle Laboy, in charge of the project. The South End Landmarks Commission  had approved it; the holes had been dug; DigSafe had approved it; the gravel dry well has been placed in the holes. All that's been missing is the LightWell itself, a softly-glowing multi-purpose art object, the shape of a one-arm embrace, lit with energy collected by solar receptors during the day.

The LightWell as a finished product

According to Seth Wiseman, associate of architecture and urban planning professor Michelle Laboy who created the concept for a city-sponsored Public Space competition, the mold for the LightWell is being fabricated by a small shop in Bristol, R.I., that suddenly received another huge order, which slowed the process for the Laboy project. Ensuring proper transparency and the right color match for the two LightWell molds took more time than anticipated. Once installed in the Library Park, the lighting portion will be refined on site, which may take more time. Plantings will be added in stages in the next week or two.

The engineering plan for the LightWell

South End Library staff and neighborhood association board members were approached to consider the idea for this installation by City Hall’s New Urban Mechanics group in February 2015. The Light Well project lends itself well to small parks in areas with groundwater recharge issues, according to Kris Carter, from the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. The group, which included the Parks Department’s chief landscape architect Liza Meyer, met with library staff, a member of the library Friends group, and the Rutland Square Association during the winter, after which it was decided to install two light wells inside Library Park: one near the corner of the library building and the alley behind it; the other on the opposite side of the park, close to the intersection of Rutland Square and Tremont Street.

James Hohmann, of Mahoney’s Garden Center, who last year generously planted perennials and grasses in three areas of Library Park as part of the South End Garden Tour, has expressed interest in working with the Light Well design team to provide additional plantings appropriate for the installations. The Public Space Invitational is a project of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Proponents were asked to "dream of new ways to bring function and wonderment to civic spaces within a budget of $4,500."