Reynolds Polymer Technology Makes It Possible to Walk Through a Waterfall in the Middle of NYC

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A seamless R-Cast® acrylic tunnel from Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. bisects a giant waterfall in an urban oasis behind 1221 Avenue of the Americas. The new acrylic tunnel replaces a worn-out glass tunnel and does so without the need for metal framework obstructions.

R-Cast acrylic tunnel bisects large waterfall in pedestrian plaza in NYC.

The seamless, structural strength R-Cast® acrylic tunnel behind 1221 Avenue of the Americas replaces an old metal and glass tunnel that had reached the end of its lifecycle.

The waterfall and tunnel are architectural features for people simply to enjoy... The tube is seamless and looks great. Tourists are out there every day taking pictures in the tube.

Everyone has likely all wondered at one point or another what it would be like to walk through a waterfall – but in the middle of New York City? Doing that –well, sort of – is possible at a recently renovated oasis behind 1221 Avenue of the Americas, owned and managed by The Rockefeller Group. With the help of a crystal clear acrylic tube from Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. (RPT), pedestrians can walk through the tunnel that bisects a giant waterfall – and remain dry – to take a shortcut to the next block .

The updated courtyard features a park, a large decorative waterfall, and a seamless acrylic tunnel that lets people cross from 48th to 49th Streets midway through the block. The plaza and passageway were originally built with the building in 1971, but the tunnel at that time was made out of curved metal framing and glass inserts. Over time, parts of the tunnel began to wear out from use from the constant stream of water running over it, leaks appeared around worn gaskets, and the metal framing had sagged to the point where it was nearly irreparable. That’s when the decision was made to scrap the existing tunnel and put in a new R-Cast® acrylic tunnel.

“Building the tunnel out of acrylic offered many advantages over glass,” explained Matt Houlihan, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at RPT. “The flexibility, formability, and structural strength of acrylic allowed us to custom design and fabricate this tunnel to be totally seamless - no need for clunky metal supports to block the view – and it’s nearly 17 times stronger than glass while only half the weight.”

The minimal amount of framework gives the tunnel a sense of being more open and lets visitors really feel as though they’re walking through the waterfall, while the UV stabilized acrylic ensures a crystal clear tunnel for decades ahead. The new tunnel is just over 12 feet wide, six feet tall and 14 feet long. The acrylic only needed to be half an inch thick for this application.

“The waterfall and tunnel are architectural features for people simply to enjoy,” said Bill Stoddard, the head engineer for the project. “The tube is seamless and looks great. Tourists are out there every day taking pictures in the tube.”

This urban refuge is a bit of a hidden gem that’s ideal for relaxing, eating lunch, sitting down to talk or crossing the street via the tunnel. In fact, the charm that this plaza offers with its unique pedestrian tunnel has earned it appearances in several movies throughout the years.

About Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc.
Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. has completed more than 1,600 projects in 53 countries in their nearly 30 years in business. RPT is known as the leading manufacturer, fabricator, designer, and installer of R-Cast® acrylic and resin sheets. In fact, RPT is the only acrylic aquarium panel manufacturer in the U.S. Their products have been used extensively in the architectural, signage, aquarium, water-retaining, and scientific industries worldwide, including major projects in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. RPT is constantly raising the standard for what can be done with acrylic and resins. Headquartered in Grand Junction, Colorado, RPT also has operations in Rayong, Thailand. Visit http://www.reynoldspolymer.com for more information. Proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council.

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