Posts Tagged ‘Modernism’

BY MARK R. EISCHEID

The site manager Ben Wever talks about maintenance at Dan Kiley’s Miller Garden.

FROM THE JULY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Considered a modernist masterpiece, Dan Kiley’s Miller Garden in Columbus, Indiana, is now more than 60 years old. Previously the private residence of the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller family (1957–2008), the property has been owned and managed by Newfields (formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art) since 2009. Ben Wever, the site manager of the Miller House and Garden, was born and raised in Columbus and has a decades-long history with the site. His grandmother, Barbara Voelz, worked for the Miller family, and he would occasionally visit the property as a child. He later became a part-time gardener for the Millers while in high school, and eventually a seasonal and then a full-time groundskeeper and a personal assistant to J. Irwin Miller. Wever—an Indiana-accredited horticulturist, member of Landmark Columbus’s Advocacy and Education Committee, and a midcentury furniture collector—also has experience maintaining other Kiley designs throughout Columbus. In his current role, Wever oversees the care, curation, and maintenance of both the Miller House and Garden. The following are excerpts from a conversation regarding the practices and challenges of maintaining the Miller Garden. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The plan by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates retains the fundamental elements of Dan Kiley’s original design. Photo by Nic Lehoux.

The protection of modernist design is a relatively new topic in preservationist circles. And in many cases, landscapes have lagged behind modern architecture in receiving formal recognition and valuation.

But over the past several years, the modernism preservation nonprofit Docomomo US has used its primary awards program to bring visibility to the vulnerability and value of historic modern landscapes. The projects recognized by Docomomo US’s sixth annual Modernism in America Awards show the ways that all disciplines of the designed environment come together as a defining element of modernism: architecture, landscape architecture, art, interior design, and more. That’s been a recurring theme through the years, though this year’s awards were the first time it was “expressed so clearly or comprehensively,” says awards juror and Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon. Several projects honored put the preservation of historic modernist landscapes front and center: the rehabilitation of Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, honored with a Design Award of Excellence, and the restoration of Olav Hammarstrom’s Pond House in Massachusetts, which received a Design Citation of Merit. (more…)

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The Marcus Center in 1970. Photo courtesy Joe Karr, FASLA, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

Milwaukee rushes toward a zero-sum choice that could eradicate a Kiley landscape.

 

Dan Kiley developed his approach to landscape design in the wake of World War II. After designing the courtrooms for the trials of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, he explored the classical European gardens such as the Tuileries, Villandry, and Versailles, and  translated their allées, bosques, and hedgerows into modern expressions of landscape design. Channeling this tradition created “spaces with structural integrity,” Kiley wrote.

“The trees form a mass that’s almost a structure,” says Joe Karr, FASLA, who worked with Kiley from 1963 till 1969. “Dan quite often used plants like an architect would use other materials.”

Kiley’s landscape for Milwaukee’s Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, which sits next to the Milwaukee River downtown, exemplifies these lessons. The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s President and CEO Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, says it’s “truer to the Tuileries as any Kiley landscape that survives today.”

But the Marcus Center is now planning to destroy Kiley’s primary landscape feature on the site: a grid of 36 horse chestnut trees. A new plan will replace the trees with a great lawn for large public gatherings, quite contrary to Kiley’s design intent. Construction is tentatively slated to start (more…)

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REVIEWED BY KOFI BOONE, ASLA

FROM THE OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

With more than 15 million views, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie’s groundbreaking TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” is likely the most viewed treatise on the consequences of making one story the story of the African continent. With surgical precision, Adichie reveals the lasting consequences of perpetuating Africa and Africans as only victims suffering from famine and war, or only the exotic backdrop for experiencing “charismatic nature.” But in the end, her most devastating criticism of the single story is embodied in her quote of the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti, “If you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with ‘secondly.’” Illustrating her point, Adichie asks facetiously what we would think if the story began with a “failed” African state instead of with European colonialism.

The issue of starting with “secondly” is present in cultural landscape study of the continent of Africa. The spirit of Adichie’s and Barghouti’s arguments resonates in the pages of Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by John Beardsley. The volume collects essays delivered at a symposium held at Dumbarton Oaks in 2013 and reflects an important first step in laying the foundation for future exploration. Through a wide array of disciplinary lenses, geographic locations, and time periods, Beardsley’s work eschews deriving a single conclusion about what is “African” and instead reveals the wealth of issues and opportunities with engaging the many cultures of a continent. The avoidance of narrowing and bridging the divergent voices contained within the book is challenging and perhaps belies the fact that this is one of the first mainstream publications on this topic. Given the lack of similar texts, there could be a tendency to attempt to be singular and definitive. However, borrowing from one of the book’s many themes, the result is a contribution to the “continuity” of a conversation about the lives and practices that have shaped meaningful place in Africa, a continent still invisible to the profession of landscape architecture. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Alfred Caldwell. Image courtesy Deborah and Richard Polansky.

“The house is not a machine for living—it is the man’s sense of himself,” Alfred Caldwell once said. And in designing his own home and farm compound in rural Wisconsin, Caldwell forged a bridge between Jens Jensen’s Prairie style and International style modernism, an intersection of design currents that never solidified as much as its forebears. His most cherished project might be Chicago’s Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, where whorls of meandering paths orbit and shield views around a pond and an earthy, horizontal pavilion. But he was also one of the first American faculty members hired by Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and his lush landscape at the architect’s austere Lafayette Park neighborhood in Detroit provides a poetic counterpoint to van der Rohe’s crystalline rationality.

The landscape architecture school of the IIT is offering a multidisciplinary slate of programming through winter, “Alfred Caldwell and the Performance of Democracy,” which will harness the midcentury landscape architect’s legacy and character into a series of performances and archive workshops the school hopes will bring both greater public appreciation and study within the discipline. (more…)

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