By Sarah Fiorello

Lightwave is a sculptural bench created by two Cornell graduates located near the ponds in the F. R. Newman Arboretum. As Cornell Architecture undergraduates, Katie MacDonald (’13) and Kyle Schumann (’13) received funding from the Cornell Council for the Arts in 2013 to build Lightwave, which is made up of 264 black locust posts that were milled, sanded, painted, and assembled into a grid of square timbers that undulate to create a variety of seating alcoves. The design was inspired by the constant motion of water breaking through rock, a characteristic of Cornell’s landscape positioned between two gorges.

When Katie and Kyle donated the bench to Cornell Botanic Gardens in 2015, Staff Landscape Designer Irene Lekstutis identified the grove of pin oak trees next to Houston Pond as the ideal location for Lightwave. Not only would the oaks protect the bench, Irene had always felt the “space and the surrounding landscape invited people to sit and reflect.”  

Katie MacDonald and Kyle Schumann are founders of After Architecture, a design practice that specializes in creating a sense of place through artistic architectural design. Click here to view their amazing work.

More art in the Arboretum

Sculpture Garden

These abstract, ten-ton concrete sculptures were created in the 1960s by Cornell undergraduate architecture students.

Goldsworthy Holocaust Memorial

The Garden of Stones symbolize the tenacity of life, honoring those who died in the Holocaust and those who survived.