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Roberto Burle Marx Exhibition at NY Botanical Garden Celebrates Brazilian Modernism

An aerial view of  Modernist Garden at the New York Botanical Garden’s “Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx.” Photography courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden.


The exuberance of Brazilian Modernism is now on full display in the Bronx as “Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx” opens Saturday, June 8, at the New York Botanical Garden. The largest botanical exhibition ever mounted by the NYBG, it combines a horticultural tribute to Burle Marx—one of the most significant Brazilian artists and landscape designers of the 20th century—with insights into his vibrant artwork and textiles and his advocacy for plant conservation.

To do so, the NYBG converted a lawn outside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory into a lushly landscaped Modernist Garden, replicating the bold designs of Burle Marx via striking black-and-white patterned pathways, curvilinear planting beds, and a large water feature that recreates the look of one the designer installed in the Banco Safra headquarters in Sao Paulo. Visitors wander amid palm trees, elephant’s ears, bromeliads, coleus and other plants Burle Marx used in his garden designs.

The Modernist Garden replicates the bold patterns and curvilinear planting beds Roberto Burle Marx favored during his prolific career as a landscape designer. Photography courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden.


The indoor Explorer’s Garden furthers the journey into the world of South America’s tropical rainforest, while the Water Garden highlights Burle Marx’s use of plants from a variety of regions and includes a mix of the NYBG’s own water lilies as well as tropical water lilies favored by the landscape designer. Raymond Jungles, a Miami-based landscape architect who was a protege of Burle Marx in the 1980s and early 1990s, designed the three gardens for the NYBG.

“This is the biggest living exhibition we have ever done, “ said Todd Forrest, Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections at the NYBG, “but it matched Roberto Burle Marx’s larger-than-life spirit.”

Read more: How Brazilian Furniture Designers Carved Out Their Distinctly Modern Aesthetic 

The Modernist Garden is an homage to Roberto Burle Marx and includes a water feature recreating the look of one the Brazilian designer installed in the Banco Safra in Sao Paulo. Photography courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden.


In the Art Gallery of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library, a collection of Burle Marx’s landscape designs, paintings, drawings, and textiles are displayed, and in the Rotunda the look of his home—where he loved to entertain guests with elaborate dinner parties—is recreated, allowing visitors to draw parallel between his artistic vision and horticultural passion. Burle Marx’s artwork is vibrant and abstract and his gardens and public spaces striking in their use of bold and sensuous curves. 

Artwork by Robert Burle Marx is displayed in the Art Gallery of the Lu Esther T. Mertz Library at the New York Botanical Garden. Photography courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden.

“Roberto Burle Marx was a total work of art,” said Edward J. Sullivan, Ph.D, the Helen Gould Shepard Professor of the History of Art and Deputy Director of the Institute of Fine Art at New York University, who curated the gallery exhibition.

Roberto Burle Marx in his studio in the Sitio, outside Rio de Janeiro, which has been recreated in the Rotunda of the New York Botanical Garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library. Photography courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden.

Burle Marx, who was born in 1909 and died in 1994 , was a principal figure in Latin America’s modernist art and garden movement in the latter half of the 20th century. He created more than 3,000 landscape projects in his long career, notably the undulating pedra portuguesapromenade along Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro and the patterned pavement along Key Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, which wasn’t installed until a decade after his death.  

“Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx,” which also features Brazilian music and dance performances, runs through September 29, 2019.

Read more: Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler Architekten Brings Latin American Modernism to Swiss Villa

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Dr. Carol Bentel Tackles the Issue of Disposable Design at Design Talks 2019

The restaurant business—especially in New York City—can be a fickle one: One day you’re the darling of the food critics and earning culinary awards left and right and only a few years later you’re out of business or sold to a new investor. But what if you’re the firm that designed the restaurant and garnered accolades for the space? What happens to the materials that were so carefully selected to create an ambience that complements the dining experience?

That was the topic tackled by Dr. Carol Bentel, partner in New York-based Bentel & Bentel Architects and chair of BFA Interior Design Department at the School of Visual Arts, who as a speaker at Design Talks 2019—a free series of lectures hosted by Design Pavilion NYC  as part of NYCxDESIGN events—offered up some sobering statistics: On average, restaurant design endures just seven years.

Bentel also showed a video of what prompted her to study the subject. It was of a 2017 “graffiti party” hosted by the new owner and chef of Eleven Madison Park, Will Guidara and Daniel Humm, as they covered the walls with scrawls of paint before a gut renovation began on the space that Bentel & Bentel had originally designed for restaurateur Danny Meyer in 1998.

Dr. Carol Bentel of Bentel & Bentel Architects.


The architect looked at the other restaurant projects the firm had designed—58 in total—and learned that just 41 still exist, which meant that almost one-third were gone. This, she noted, begged the question: “What happens to all those materials?”

She then detailed how her firm altered designs requested by clients to maintain certain quality materials—walnut flooring in the Rouge Tomate restaurant at 10 East 60th Street (since closed) and marble slabs and monumental bronze columns in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt New York (now slated to be demolished in 2020 for a new hi-rise)—their demises further driving home the notion of modern design’s impermanence.

But Bentel also offered ideas for creative re-use. These included dismantling techniques that don’t destroy materials; reusable surfaces for walls, floors, and ceilings; panelized systems; enduring materials that defy the need to toss; reexamination of prefab ideas; and building with obsolescence in mind.

She also put out a call to the design industry to “cherish the endurance of good design,” create prizes for “saving the existing,” and develop something akin to City Harvest, the program started in 1982 that collects unused food at restaurants (now 61 million pounds annually) to distribute to New Yorkers struggling to put food on their tables.

Bentel closed by noting that although the disposable design trend won’t end, “maybe we can slow the destructiveness and wastefulness down” by doing three things: resisting fads, embracing authenticity, and striving for timelessness.

Read more: NYCxDESIGN 2019 Full Coverage

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FXCollaborative-Designed Statue of Liberty Museum Opens in New York City

Opening day on the rooftop of the new Statue of Liberty Museum. Photography courtesy of FXCollaborative.


The Statue of Liberty has welcomed visitors and immigrants to New York Harbor since its installation in 1886 and now those who ferry over to see this powerful symbol, a centennial gift from France sculpted in copper by Auguste Bartholdi, can gain extra insight into its history and construction at the new Statue of Liberty Museum. Designed by New York City-based architecture firm FXCollaborative and opened today, the 26,000-square-foot museum features exhibits created by ESI Design, a NYC-based experience design firm, that includes the Statue of Liberty’s original torch as its centerpiece. The copper-and-glass emblem is set inside a 22-foot-tall glass vitrine offering sweeping views of the statue.

Read more: Warmth and Modernism Are at the Heart of 3XN’s Design for Olympic House

The centerpiece of the new Statue of Liberty Museum is this 22-foot-tall glass vitrine showcasing the statue’s original copper torch—and a view of Lady Liberty herself. Photography courtesy of David Sundberg/Esto.


“From the start, the Statue of Liberty Museum was conceived as a garden pavilion that would create a joyous and welcoming new experience for all visitors to the island, regardless of age, nationality, or ethnicity,” said Nicholas Garrison, design partner and project director at FXCollaborative. “Engaging the park’s formal plan, and in response to its spectacular setting, the island’s landscape is lifted and merged with the architecture to create memorable public space above, and in the Museum space below in a new geology. The building’s angular forms and spaces are shaped by its views and the irregularity of the water’s edge, celebrating liberty.”

Visitors enjoy the opening-day view of the Statue of Liberty Museum from Flagpole Plaza. Photography courtesy of FXCollaborative.


The Statue of Liberty Museum—which is targeted to achieve LEED Gold certification—is located on the north end of the pedestrian mall and features materials inspired by the UNESCO World Heritage Site island itself. A staircase leading from the statue to a granite roof terrace that offers panoramic views is done in the same “Stony Creek” granite used by Richard Morris Hunt for the pedestal more than 130 years ago, while copper fascia panels, spaced at irregular vertical intervals and made from the same type of recycled copper used in the statue’s 1986 restoration, are intended to patina with age—just as Lady Liberty has. 

Families trying out the interactive exhibits by ESI Design, which include a true-to-life reproduction of Lady Liberty’s copper foot, on the museum’s opening day. Photography courtesy of Keena Photo.


Inside the museum, the design was inspired by Bartholdi’s workshops in Paris and the Gustave Eiffel-engineered structure for the statue, that along with polished concrete floors and deep charcoal accents give the interiors an industrial feel. The interactive exhibits by ESI Design include an Engagement Gallery filled with artifacts and media detailing the statue’s construction and global impact and the Inspiration Gallery, where visitors can add their self-portrait and inspirational collage to the Becoming Liberty digital mural.

The Becoming Liberty digital mural by ESI Design at the Statue of Liberty Museum on opening day. Photography courtesy of Keena Photo.


The building, which is intended to look as its been “lifted” from the surrounding park, features green roofs planted with native vegetation and designed to insulate it as well as capture and filter rain water, while the grounds are planted with native grasses designed to act as a habitat for native species and migrating birds.

Project Architect Nicholas Garrison of FXCollaborative with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio at the Statue of Liberty Museum’s opening. Photography courtesy of FXCollaborative. 


The museum opened to the public on May 16, following a dedication ceremony presented by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. and the National Park Service and attended by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and campaign chairperson Diane von Furstenberg.

Read more: History Museum in Graz by Innocad Architecture Wins 2018 Best of Year Award for Small Museum

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