When New Yorkers seek an island of calm within the city, they usually think of finding a patch of grass in a park, not making a beeline to the streets of Jackson Heights. But stillspotting, a series of programs sponsored by the Guggenheim, promises pools of respite in the most unusual places.
Selected artists and architects are paired with each of New York five boroughs and asked to create “spots” of stillness–what that might mean seems to be completely at their discretion. Last June artist Pedro Reyes’ Sanitorium project in Brooklyn offered visitors a selection of “urban therapies”; in September the architects of Snoehetta teamed up with Estonian composer Arvo Part to create To a Great City, a series of installations deploying weather balloons accompanied by Part’s music in a handful of spaces around Manhattan. Now, the architecture firm SO-IL is defining stillness through time, specifically the time it takes for a writer to read a short story. Read More
“I don’t have time to read, because I trot about with the gardeners. And the little monk’s garden at Fenway Court is very dear too,” Isabella Stewart Gardner wrote to her art advisor Bernard Berenson in 1908.
The walled “monk’s garden” flanks the Gardner Museum‘s Venetian-style palazzo (the house originally known as Fenway Court that became today’s museum) and was first planted in 1903 in an Italianate-style with elegant evergreens running along the walls and pathways. In the 1940s museum director Morris Carter resdesigned the Monks Garden using a Japanese style plan but seeding it with New England wildflowers. For the garden’s last update in the 1970s, Sasaki Associates added bluestone pavers and wooden benches. And the recent addition to the Gardner campus by Renzo Piano included a repositioning of the museum’s main entrance, a move that gives the Monks Garden a much higher profile, warranting another facelift. Read More
A massive new urban farming project in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was announced last week by New York City-based Bright Farms, a company dedicated to building hydroponic farms close to supermarkets. The Sunset Park project will be the largest rooftop farm in the city, and possibly the world. At 100,000 square feet, it could potentially yield 1 million pounds of produce a year and joins several other agricultural projects in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Grange, another rooftop farming operation located in Queens, is planning to open a 45,000 square foot urban farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and farm-developers Gotham Greens will be opening a new location in the borough as well.
[Editor's Note: Following the unveiling of proposals to redesign the National Mall, AN will be running a three-part series to display the proposals for each of the three segments of the Mall: Constitution Gardens, Union Square, and the Washington Monument Grounds.]
A 50-acre parcel of the National Mall, Constitution Gardens, lies just north of the Reflecting Pool and east of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Grade changes keep it somewhat hidden from the main stretch of the Mall, and many tourists (and locals) visit the monuments and Smithsonian museums without coming across it. The gardens’ focal point is a small lake with an island that visitors can access by footbridge. The National Park Service has struggled with the site’s poor soil conditions—the ground was dredged from the Potomac River back in the late 19th century—and with upkeep of the paths and other features.
The National Mall Plan of 2010 calls for an “architecturally unique, multipurpose visitor facility, including food service, retail, and restrooms” to be developed at the east end of the lake, as well as a flexible performance space.
As architects like Herzog & de Meuron and Jean Nouvel tap into the potential of vertical gardens, they’ll often seek the expertise of Patrick Blanc. For the past thirty years Blanc developed vertical gardens while researching adaptive strategies of plants at the National Center for Sceintific Research in France. His research of plant growth in nature’s more hostile environs, such as hanging off of stone cliffs or springing from rocks next to waterfalls, has yielded a uniquely urbanistic solution for gardening. For the next ten days there’s a small window of opportunity left to see the work of Blanc at its most luxurious. The botanist designed the New York Botanical Garden‘s annual Orchid Show which ends on April 22. As a bonus, this also happens to be the moment that the Gardens’ 250 acres are at the height of their springtime burst.
Amanda Burden, Chair of the New York City Planning Commission and Director of the Department of City Planning, is the recipient of the Architectural League of New York’s highest honor, the President’s Medal. The League’s President and Board of Directors grant the award to individuals in recognition of an exceptional body of work in architecture, urbanism, or design. The medal was presented to Burden last night at an awards ceremony.