A complete redesign and rebuilding of Oppenstein Brothers Memorial Park at 12th and Walnut in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, was dedicated on April 18, 2008. The park concept is named Celestial Flyways to celebrate the natural environment of the Kansas City area.
The park was designed by Kansas City artist Laura DeAngelis and Davison Architecture + Urban Design and was commissioned by the Art in the Loop Foundation, a metropolitan organization of business and civic leaders with a continuing mission to enhance central Kansas City with public art. This project was a cooperative venture between the city of Kansas City and Jackson Country Parks and Recreation. It required two years of work, the talents of at least 150 people at a cost of nearly $500,000, much of which was donated.
The park’s theme, Celestial Flyways, was inspired by the migratory patterns of many bird species which pass through the Kansas City area. The park design includes migratory bird routes with inlays of sixteen bird species. The arcs in the picture below represent the migratory bird routes. The park landscaping uses native prairie plants.
The centerpiece of the park is an interactive sculpture based on the anaphoric clock, a model of the sky with roots deep in antiquity. The anaphoric star disk in the park is very likely the largest and most accurate astronomical machine of this type ever made.
The anaphoric star disk consists of a 10 foot (3 m.) diameter disk containing the positions of 457 stars in 50 constellations. The stars are shown by holes in the disks filled by acrylic lenses and are lighted from below. Drawings of the mythological characters associated with the constellations are etched on the surface of the disk. Park visitors rotate the star disk to a date and time with a motor operated by buttons on the base. The mechanism is not a clock since it does not run by itself. If it were a clock, the disk would rotate once in a sidereal day.
Above the rotating star disk is a grid showing the local horizon and meridian, the celestial equator and the Tropic of Cancer. The Tropic of Capricorn is the outer diameter of the disk. The meridian is accurately oriented and the horizon corresponds to the latitude of the park at 39° 6′ North.
The base of the sculpture is decorated with ceramic representations of the Kansas City natural environment made by Laura DeAngelis.
The outer circumference of the base contains a calendar and the outer edge of the disk has a time scale. Park visitors set the disk by aligning a time with a date. Once set, the stars are positioned for that instant.
The sun’s annual path, the ecliptic, is also engraved on the disk in the form of a calendar. The sun’s position for a day corresponds to a date on the ecliptic circle.
The star disk can be set for the current date and time to see the current positions of the sun and stars, set to find the time of a celestial event, such as sunrise or sunset or set to any other date and time of interest. It is a very informative display for such a simple machine.
The anaphoric star disk required the experience, talent and effort of a large number of people. The overall design was by Laura DeAngelis with Dominique Davison. The star positions, constellation asterisms, ecliptic, time scale and calendar were computer produced by James Morrison. The constellation figures were drawn by Laura DeAngelis and Peregrine Honig. Detailed design drawings were supplied by Davison Architecture + Urban Design. The disk, grid and supporting structure were fabricated by A. Zahner Co. The star lenses were made and installed by Louis Rose. The base ceramic decoration was made and installed by Laura DeAngelis and Louis Rose.