“Unnecessary” and “avoidable”: Ken Smith, landscape architect, on threat to Russell Page garden

KevinSmith_2-17-15-250Ken Smith, the internationally acclaimed and award-winning landscape architect, has spoken out concerning destructive expansion at the Frick Collection.

In a letter addressed to Mayor de Blasio, the chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Frick’s director, Mr. Smith celebrates the East 70th Street garden and appeals for preservation. Read the full letter below.

 

Ken Smith_letter_Top

 

February 6, 2015

Ian Wardropper, Director
The Frick Collection Board of Trustees
1 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021

Commissioner Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
Municipal Building
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

To all concerned,

I am writing out of concern regarding the proposed destruction of the Frick Collection Garden designed by Russell Page. The Garden is an important artwork cherished world-wide as one of the finest and most accessible works by the acclaimed twentieth-century garden designer Russell Page.The garden is significant on its own in terms of artistry, beauty and elegance, but made more so by its context in contributing to the streetscape and massing of the neo-classical Frick mansion.

The city has so few really outstanding designed gardens of repose like the Frick Garden. Its loss would certainly be unneccessary and I must say surely avoidable. With all the great talent in our city and generations of commitment to culture and history, there must be a way to preserve the garden while allowing sensitive expansion of the museum. I think back to the Museum of Modern Art’s successful expansion a decade ago, while preserving and restoring its modern garden (designed by Philip Johnson and Robert Zion) by constructing space beneath the garden.

I request that the City’s Landmark Preservation Commission intervene and that the Frick reconsider its current expansion plans to make the preservation of this significant and historic garden a priority in the planning the future of the museum’s heritage site.

Sincerely,

Ken Smith, FASLA

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