Betsy Gotbaum, Maya Lin & Others Call for Frick to Withdraw Current Proposal

BGotbaum_cropBetsy Gotbaum, former Public Advocate for New York City, joins with thousands of others calling upon the Frick Collection to withdraw their current expansion proposal as a supporter of Unite to Save the Frick.

In a letter to the Trustees of the Frick, Ms. Gotbaum speaks both from her experience as a voice for the people of New York as well as a former President of a major cultural Institution, the New-York Historical Society. She writes: ” It is not too late to reverse your plans and to reposition the Frick as a a champion for excellence in landscape design and a proud steward of a singular landmarked institution.”

Read her complete letter below.

Betsy Gotbaum adds her name to the many other experts who have already spoken out in opposition to the Frick’s destructive plan, including:


MAYA LIN, artist & designer
Ms. Lin  has maintained a careful balance between art and architecture throughout her career, creating a remarkable body of work that includes large-scale site-specific installations, intimate studio artworks, architectural works and memorials. Landscape is the context and the source of inspiration for Ms. Lin’s art. A committed environmentalist, Lin has consistently focused on environmental concerns, promoting sustainable building design in her architectural works, while making the environment the subject of her artworks.

Betsy Barlow RogersELIZABETH BARLOW ROGERS, author, designer & founder, Central Park Conservancy and the Foundation for Landscape Studies
A resident of New York City since 1964, Ms. Rogers was the first person to hold the title of Central Park Administrator for New York City. She was the founding president of the Central Park Conservancy, the public-private partnership created in 1980 to bring citizen support to the restoration and renewed management of Central Park. She served in both positions until 1996. Mr. Rogers is also a writer on the history of landscape design and the cultural meaning of place.

RAMStern_cropROBERT A.M. STERN, architect & Dean of the Yale University School of Architecture
Mr. Stern is a practicing and award-winning architect, teacher, and writer. Speaking to the New York Times in November concerning the Frick’s proposal, Mr. Stern stated: “Gardens are works of art. This one is in perfect condition by Russell Page, one of the pre-eminent garden designers of the 20th century, and it should be respected as such. It’s as important as a tapestry or even a painting, and I think the museum is obliged to recognize its importance.”

PPennoyer_cropPETER PENNOYER, architect & author
A fluent and nimble classicist, Mr. Pennoyer possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of pediments and porticoes, balustrades and bolections. Such tried-and-true details are fundamental to his distinguished portfolio. Mr. Pennoyer currently serves as the chairman for the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. An accomplished author, he has cowritten monographs on Warren & Wetmore, Delano & Aldrich, and Grosvenor Atterbury, patrician firms that he deeply admires and whose legacies he compellingly carries forward. Read Mr. Pennoyer’s letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission here.


December 30, 2014

Dear Trustees of The Frick Collection:

I understand that the Frick Museum seeks to demolish the Russell Page Viewing Garden and complementary Pavilion to make way for an expansion.  I urge you to listen to the thousands of voices in opposition.

My unique experience, first as Commissioner for New York City’s Parks Department, then as the director of a cultural institution (the New-York Historical Society), and finally as New York City’s Public Advocate, allows me to join with those who oppose the expansion.

Green space in New York City is a resource to protect.  As viewed from the public thoroughfare, the Russell Page-designed garden at the Frick affords passersby a respite from the concrete of the City.  That the Frick maintains the garden as “off-limits” is at the institution’s own decree; which could be modified by the museum.

At the New-York Historical Society, I balanced the demands of operations with the responsibility of landmark stewardship.  I am proud we succeeded in repositioning the Historical Society as a cultural leader without imposing additional development on the community.

I urge you to listen to what your neighbors express.  It is not too late to reverse your plans and to reposition the Frick as a champion for excellence in landscape design and a proud steward of a singular landmarked institution.  I ask you to please withdraw your expansion proposal.




Betsy Gotbaum
Public Advocate, New York City (2001-2008)
President, New-York Historic Society (1994-2001)
Commissioner, Department of Parks & Recreation, New York City (1990-1994)


Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Meenakshi Srinivasan, chair
Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor, North
New York, NY 10007

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