An Index of Landscapes by Frederick Law Olmsted

Photo: Clemens Kois, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Design © Gloria Kisch Estate, courtesy of NYRA, Cazottes Clement/EyeEm/Getty Images, courtesy of LEGO

Every two weeks, I will collect and share the objects, the designers, the news and the events to know.

Photo: Brian Bumby/Getty Images

Wednesday was the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted. The conservationist, journalist and grandfather of American landscape architecture gave the country some of its most beloved public spaces. For Olmsted, a public park represented the belief that everyone should have access to fresh air, nature and recreation. He spent his life greening cities across the country, work that his son and his charges continued. While spaces like Central Park, Prospect Park and the Emerald Necklace in Boston are some of his best-known projects, there are dozens more to discover. In honor of its bicentennial, the Cultural Landscape Foundation has put together an online guide and interactive map of 320 of Olmsted’s projects in the United States. It is a satisfying and invaluable collection.

Photo: Courtesy of NYRA

After 9/11, the redevelopment of the World Trade Center was supposed to become the symbol of a stronger and better New York, but above all it became a bastion of luxury shopping and an obligatory stopover for tourists. Looking at the last unbuilt site, architecture collective Citygroup and community group Coalition for 100% Affordable 5WTC have called for ideas on what a tower made entirely of affordable housing might look like. They invited the architects to insert their own design into a rendering that KPF made for its own skyscraper on the site. “This project is not final, we want to mobilize the architects and show a completely different program”, specifies Violette de la Selle, founding member of Citygroup.

The results are here, published in the New York Architecture Reviewof the current issue and on view in Citygroup’s project space in Chinatown. Ideas include a modular design with a work-to-own financing model that would allow the people who built the tower to live there, and a communal high-rise with shared apartments and vegetable gardens on every fourth floor. A couple of designers proposed to turn the site, which was bought with taxpayers’ money, into a public green space. These are exciting provocations, given that the city can’t seem to stop building office space despite a 20% vacancy rate, while apartment rents rise and only one out of 593 affordable housing lottery applications are accepted. . “Our request is not to implement any of these designs; it’s to say that these 40 designs prove that there is a desire for new ways of thinking,” says Todd Fine, member of the Affordable 5WTC coalition. The designers will present their concepts at a public forum at the Clemente Center on May 7 at 6 p.m. The exhibition is open until June 10.

Photo: Clemens Kois; Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Design © Gloria Kisch Estate.

The late sculptor Gloria Kisch chose to work metal for its mystical qualities and sought to create “a symbiosis between primitive and futuristic form” in her jewel-like bells and chairs that might appear anthropomorphic or totemic. Towards the end of her life, she began making huge flower sculptures – some were four feet wide – which had to be mounted on a wall. For Kisch, the ephemeral of flowers was a metaphor for life; his sculptures were an attempt to render their full immortality. A number of these works are on display in “Gloria Kisch: As Above, So Is Below” at the Salon 94 gallery space at 1 Freeman Alley until June.

Clockwise from left: Photo: Courtesy of LEGOPhoto: Courtesy of LEGOPhoto: Courtesy of LEGO

From above: Photo: Courtesy of LEGOPhoto: Courtesy of LEGOPhoto: Courtesy of LEGO

Speaking of flowers, Lego has just introduced two new kits for its Botanical Collection of building block sets – and these are the toughest: Orchids and Succulents. They are beautiful and you know exactly when to water them: never.

Photo: Cazottes Clément EyeEm/Getty Images

It’s had a lofty run, but after 50 years, the Nakagin Capsule Tower – architect Kisho Kurokawa’s Metabolist modular micro-apartment building – is now being dismantled. Tokyo Tower rose as a symbol of modernity and resilience amid the wreckage of Japan during World War II. “I belong to the fourth generation, whose point of origin is the defeat and destruction of war,” Kurokawa wrote in a 1977 manifesto. He and his cohort called themselves “metabolists” because they believed that buildings had to be designed as organisms capable of growing and changing. Unfortunately, this never happened to Nakagin Tower, as the capsules deteriorated and were never replaced, with many units remaining empty in its later years. I came across the @Nakagin_Capsule_Tower Instagram account, which offers a rich archive of its history: images of individual apartments, the dinners held there, editorial photo shoots, press and book covers, as well as details about the “unique battle” each. capsule has rain and leaks. The tower has been extensively documented over the years, but this feels like a much more intimate scrapbook of the building’s private and public life.

Photo: Courtesy of Bungalow

The Westbeth Artists Colony – located in the former Bell Labs complex on West and Bethune streets – was established in 1970 to provide affordable housing and studios for practicing artists. It’s been one of the city’s most successful housing experiments, despite disputes between residents, a few illegal conversions, and severe damage from Hurricane Sandy that left it strapped for cash. Rents are still low, waiting lists are extremely long and no one ever leaves. (As a result, it’s become a natural retirement community.) But it stays true to its mission: to support artists. In the complex’s ground floor gallery, Westbeth hosts Bungalow, a traveling curatorial project, which has installed a design exhibition featuring works by contemporary artists and former Westbeth residents. Among the stars, a collection of furniture from the Egyptian studio Don Tanani in collaboration with Lina Alorabi. For the show, they created an extra-long version of their Ouroboros bench, a blue-tinted carved oak piece reminiscent of the ancient symbol of a serpent eating its tail, representing the cycle of life. Until May 27.

About Gertrude H. Kerr

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