PHYLLIS ODESSEY

How The Leopard Got Its Spots

Lever House, the modernist icon on Park Avenue is Gordon Bunstaft’s masterpiece and the precursor to all those anonymous, mediocre, buildings that people our cities.

Who would dare take this striped down, office building and decorate its surface?

Richard Woods, in his new piece, called Port Sunlight patterns forty columns, eight Noguchi marble benches, exterior and interior planters and sections of the floor inside Lever House:  the result, a present to all city walkers, who stroll down Park Avenue at the corner of 53 street.

 Richard Woods on the Lever House installation
“The installation for the Lever House uses a multitude of commonplace, 19th century patterns, including William Morris inspired graphic depictions of nature and mock Tudor architectural surfacing so common durig the early 20th century.  the patterns are woodblock printed onto wood fiberboard or alumnum sheets.  The effect is to impose high Victorian decoration onto the elegant minimal language of the modernist building.”

I think I will spend part of my Christmas vacation thinking about how all of this can relate to garden design.  How one can take a very paired down, seemingly simple structure and create an ornate pattern around it.  Woods’s installation is a wink and nod and sometimes we need a little humor in the garden and in our lives.

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