Ken Smith Landscape as Cultural Criticism

In the work of Ken Smith, landscape architecture is a reinvigorated three-dimensional art form. Smith is devoted both to modern landscape aesthetics as seen in projects by American landscape architects Dan Kiley (1912-2004), Paul Friedberg (b. 1931), and Robert Zion (b. 1921) and to the expression of a contemporary urban place that engages the public through the artistic and inventive use of natural and artificial materials. From the modernists Smith learned how to articulate the differences...

Foreword

I had good news and bad news for Ken Smith when I called him in 2002. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) wanted to commission a beautiful and imaginative landscape atop the roof of its new gallery building in midtown Manhattan designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. That was the good news. But the project came with a long list of restrictions that could hardly be attractive to a landscape architect live plants were strongly discouraged the need for water was to be minimized or eliminated altogether the...

Bibliography

Peter Reed, Groundswell, Constructing the Contemporary Landscape. New York The Museum of Modern Art, 2005. Barbara Hoffman, It's Art-ificial. New York Post, 21 February 2005. Allen Freeman, Big Dots, Little Dumpsters. Landscape Architecture Magazine (February 2005). Kenneth Helphand Hortus Ludens. Landscape Architecture Magazine (February 2005). Allen Freeman, Proving Ground. Landscape Architecture Magazine (January 2005). Charles Birnbaum, ed. Preserving Modern Landscape Architecture II,...

Compiled and edited byjane Amidon

Roof Garden

Jane Amidon What's important now in your work and how does this relate to the development of your practice Ken Smith There are several threads that I think are very important. First, if you want to practice landscape architecture seriously, you must have a commitment to public space. You should also be committed to environmentalism, and although the latter is not immediately obvious in most of my projects, it's implicit in my thinking about landscape. And finally, you must have a commitment to...

New York New York

In 2001 the city of New York selected five design firms to submit proposals for the East River waterfront alongside the six ferry landings including Thirty-fourth Street in Midtown. The area of intervention was a ninety-foot-long strip of seawall and a twenty-foot-wide right of way owned by the city. The program was to create a pedestrian environment that would extend existing riverside circulation through the site. In relation to a bridged walkway designed by architects Sheila Kennedy and...

East River Ferry Landings

Development Corporation New York City Department of Transportation New York City Department of Parks and Recreation divided into four sites Thirty-fourth Street site .78 acres with approximately 2,000 square feet of marsh planters Size of marsh planters 20 feet by 81 feet in nine modules 1 saltwater irrigation channel 9 saltwater scuppers 9 freshwater pop-up spray irrigation systems high tide bush) 864 spartina alternifolia (smooth cord grass) Smith is notified that his office has been placed...

The Museum of Modern Art Roof Garden

Museum Modern Art Roof Garden

In 2002 MoMA curator Peter Reed asked Ken Smith to propose an imaginative roofscape installation for the new gallery addition by architect Yoshio Taniguchi. Never to be accessible to the general public, the 17,400 square-foot garden, sitting six floors above street level, was destined to function more as one of the museum's collected works of modern and contemporary art than as an inhabitable landscape. Numerous design considerations included weight restrictions, zero tolerance for irrigation,...