Worms and Flowers

Fake Plants ARE Artful

Posted in Sightseeing by Lzyjo on September 22, 2009

Yes, I said and I did mean it. This summer MOMA unveiled an inaccessible roof top garden made recycled and synthetic materials. The garden,  designed by New York-based landscape architect Ken Smith, is intended as art to be enjoyed by residents and workers cloistered overhead in nearby skyscrapers.

View from Warwick Hoel, Sixth Avenue and 54th Street (Photo: Peter Mauss/ESTO

The design was inspired by camouflage, not only the pattern, which happened to be photocopied from a skateboarder’s pants, but also from the definition of the word camouflage which suggests imitation, deception, and decoy. In other words things on the MOMA roof garden are not what they seem.

Close-up View of South Roof detail (Photo: Peter Mauss/ESTO)

I must say Smith did an admirable job of working with numerous the guidelines and limitations, including weight limits for the roof and a recommendation not to use living plants.  Using a relatively small budget and black and white gravel pre-purchased by the museum, Smith created an oasis, turning an expanse of green plastic and rubber coated grates into lush greenery, turning recycled crushed glass into tranquil ponds bordered by foam walls. It is all an optical illusion on a grand scale. For a full narrative of the project and a list of material sources check Smith’s entry on the American Society of Landscape Architect’s website. There are also many other green roof projects, with living plants!


4 Responses

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  1. tina said, on September 22, 2009 at 10:00 AM

    I think it is neat. I’d prefer to see living plants but this is most artful.

    I think it a wonderful concept, how else could you pull of a fake garden if it were accessible.

  2. Jen said, on September 22, 2009 at 2:19 PM

    Now that’s different! I wonder if they’ll ever make it accessible in the future or if looking down on little people walking around ruins the whole aethetic…

    I think it may be “viewable” from the inside of the museum, but I’m not sure because the MOMA website didn’t have any info, (that I could find.)

  3. Faith said, on September 22, 2009 at 6:35 PM

    He did a great job considering the guidelines he was required to work in. I hope those who view it get their appetites whetted for the real thing, and go plant a garden!


    It must be calming starting out of the office on to a serene empty garden. I’m sure there was a momentary spike in productivity! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Garden Lily said, on September 26, 2009 at 1:04 AM

    Pretty neat visually. But I wonder how the materials (especially the foam) will hold up over time… I’ve noticed in my garden, how the plants, even if the old stems and leaves are left to decay in the Winter, will “renew” themselves each Spring, with vibrant clean colours. But any decorations left in the garden degrade very quickly by fading, soiling, cracking… So I’d like to see how his artificial “garden” holds up over time.

    Interesting thoughts. There is a list of sources on the ASLA website, the products are all made for outdoor use, I would assume they are manufactured with a lot of UV inhibitors. Especially for the price of those plastic plants! Many thousands of $$, they’d better last a long time! I guess time will tell, they could always put in a new installation and call this one a temp display, if all else fails!

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