Frick Collection Abandons Current Expansion Plans

The Frick Collection in New York City has abandoned is current expansion plans, which would have destroyed the East 70th Street Garden designed by the internationally influential British landscape architect Russell Page (1906-1985). The garden is one of only three of Page’s surviving public U.S. commissions and is considered by the New York Times to be one of his “most important works.”

A coalition led by Unite to Save the Frick, with whom The Cultural Landscape Foundation worked, orchestrated a broad-based opposition to the expansion, bringing in artists, architects and other significant individuals and organizations. The New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Municipal Art Society, and other cultural institutions also weighed in. Everett Fahy, who as the Frick’s director in the 1970’s commissioned Page to create the garden, decried the “awful” expansion in an extensive interview with Bloomberg News Executive Editor Manuela Hoelterhoff.

“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.”

The Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, announced in June 2014, immediately raised concerns, though the garden was little mentioned and Page’s name was absent. Birnbaum’s June 30, 2014 Huffington Post article Here’s What’s Missing in the Debate Over the Frick Collection’s Proposed Expansion first raised the issue, and his August 26, 2014 That ‘Temporary’ Frick Garden – It Was Created to Be Permanent undermined one of the Frick’s key talking points, that the garden was temporary. Significantly, in his July 30, 2014 article The Case Against a Mammoth Frick Collection Addition, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman wrote “Great public places and works of landscape architecture deserve to be treated like great buildings.”

SOURCE | The Cultural Landscape Foundation

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