Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation headquarters is a true architectural masterpiece. The offices are all exposed to a 12-story skylit atrium and winter garden, which is a beautiful and ostentatiously inefficient use of space. (Some photos and architectural history here.)

The centerpiece of the garden is a bonsai tree in the center of a coin pond. The tree symbolically places wisdom at the center of its building and the goal of the Foundation philanthropic activity. (Although with that reading the coin pool suggests the futility of throwing money after wisdom. Perhaps that's overthinkng things a bit.)

But to my mind, the most remarkable thing about the space, other than that it makes a cathedral of nature, is that in its midtown Manhattan setting, it inverts the traditional relationship between nature and built space. In Manhattan, architecture has displaced landscape as the manner of beautifying the space that humans occupy. The Ford Foundation building brings the landscape to the inside, which serves all the more to reveal the brick jungle on the other side of the windows.


George L. Iber said...

Love the picture and the insightful comment. Now I think that same metaphor can be applied to each of us. The richest and most spectacular resource is inside us.

PS, today Susy discovered your blog, and she loves it.

Patrick said...

And also, you should not eat pennies.