Contemporary landscape interventions are transforming midcentury buildings and plazas to address their urbanistic failings.
Inserting a work of contemporary landscape architecture into the context of a mid-century modernist complex is a challenging proposition. Many of the most prominent plazas, pocket parks, and courtyards from the modernist era feature stark, austere designs, intended to complement the buildings they served.
Some renowned modernist spaces such as the plaza in front of Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building were not designed with the intention that people would linger. “When Mies van der Rohe saw people sitting on the ledges, he was surprised,” Phillip Johnson is said to have commented. “He never dreamed they would.”
Certainly the sensibility of the typical mid-century modernist urban landscape is at odds with contemporary tastes and activities. Now, urban open spaces are designed for populated plazas, with a variety of seating options, shade trees and open space...
Indeed, many public plazas from the modernist era have been redesigned to conform to the contemporary program.
Read the full article for more in-depth case studies, preservation inititives, and issues related to preserving modernist architecture- in balance with the needs of today's urban spaces.