NEW YORK, NY.- On May 27, amidst Lower Manhattan 's concrete and asphalt, a temporary landscape will begin to grow. A Clearing in the Streets, designed by Julie Farris and Sarah Wayland-Smith, is a ten-sided plywood structure that houses a small meadow, fifteen feet in diameter, offset by a panoramic interior mural of a vast blue sky. Eight-inch gaps spaced throughout the structure permit controlled visual access to the enclosed landscape, exaggerating the disjunction between the natural ecology growing inside and the architecturally defined exterior. The constructed design and limited viewing opportunities magnify the natural cyclical processes of the ecology that, over a four month period, will evolve from seeds and seedlings to a lush meadow of flowering native plants and grasses.
The built environment of New York City has almost completely effaced the opportunities for natural systems to exist. Collect Pond Park was once a 60-foot-deep freshwater pond; misused and polluted in the 19th century, the pond had to be drained. A Clearing in the Streets allows nature to reclaim a small part of the current public plaza, carving out a space to reinsert native plantings. Parallel to the flux and endless change of the City itself, the meadow will be in a constant state of transformation, inviting the public to return to the installation to witness its evolution.
Farris, a landscape designer, and Wayland-Smith, an artist and landscape designer, are committed to finding innovative ways to incorporate the natural world into the urban environment, exploring temporary uses of the City's small available spaces. Materials used in the construction of A Clearing in the Streets will be recycled in neighborhood community gardens.
Julie Farris was born in 1968 in New York City; she lives and works in New York City. Farris received her BA from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York and her MLA from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2005, she founded her own studio, XS Space LLC. In 2007, she worked in collaboration with Balmori Associates and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to complete an 8,000 square foot public space, Urban Meadow, which is now a permanent park located in downtown Brooklyn.
Sarah Wayland-Smith was born in 1969 in Western Pennsylvania; she lives and works in New York City. She received her BA from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York , and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. For the past decade, she has worked as a designer for Maya Lin Studio and Balmori Associates. Her art has been exhibited in New York City and throughout the North East. Wayland-Smith collaborated previously with Farris on the design of Urban Meadow in 2007.