Surprise: Russell Page Garden at the Frick is saved

frick saved
Screen capture The Cultural Landscape Foundation

TreeHugger has been covering the fight to save the Russell Page Garden at the Frick Museum in New York. Having fought and lost many heritage battles, I held out little hope that development in a place like New York City could be stopped by a bunch of pretty plants. But it has; as one of the leaders of the fight noted:

Sanity has prevailed and Russell Page’s brilliantly designed garden at the Frick has been saved,” said Charles A. Birnbaum, president & CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, adding, “this is all the more significant because works of landscape architecture are often overlooked, their artistic and cultural significance is either unknown or not understood, and they’re seen as open space usable for expansions.

As Michael Kimmelman notes in the New York Times, the Frick was up against a "coalition of architects, preservationists and landscape designers, joined recently by the Municipal Art Society." But they held most of the cards, given that the garden was closed to the public and they say it was always "temporary". Kimmelman says the Frick officials were "stupefied" by the opposition to their plans, thinking that the garden was no more than an afterthought. I noted in an earlier post that people don't respect open space;

One of the problems with green space is that it is often just seen as "inherently ephemeral and too often viewed as places to "put stuff." Unless it is deeded as a park, it's just real estate with some plants stored on it.

Kimmelman on frickUnite to save the Frick/Screen capture

I am pretty stupefied by the victory; this is a real sea change in attitude. Kimmelman writes:

Unlikely or not, Page’s garden is where landscape advocates decided to make a stand. Not just buildings but the spaces between those buildings should command our respect and shape policy toward development and preservation. Saving the garden has helped open up a fresh public conversation about urbanism and street life.

Indeed. Congratulations to Unite to save the Frick and to The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

Surprise: Russell Page Garden at the Frick is saved
People who care about heritage landscapes don't chalk up many victories. Here's a big one.

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