CAM Announces New Landscape Architect Installations on Museum Patio

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Having never been to an event at CAM that utilized the outdoor courtyard, it always looks decidedly barren out toward the patio when one manages a glimpse outdoors, abandoned even. That’s all about to change. CAM recently announced that the patio at CAM will feature two landscape architect installations by landscape architecture firm NOMAD, the first time a green space is to be installed is in the summer of 2015, and the second, also a green space, will be installed in the summer of 2016. The currently underused patio will be converted from clean lines and bare spaces into an inviting, comfortable green space with a softened atmosphere where guests can muse over inner meditations large and small, and fraternize with fellow museumgoers.

In Mall interior, the plantings are held captive within their respective planters, but grow wildly within them. Courtesy NOMAD Architecture

In Mall interior, the plantings are held captive within their respective planters, but grow wildly within them.
Courtesy NOMAD Architecture

There will be more to be gained by museum guests than simply the passive experience of sitting in a nice, well-manicured green space, however. A variety of educational and learning experiences are being planned that not only facilitate this casual enjoyment, which are still being determined, but in-depth analysis of the relationships between several elements like botany and fine art, and horticulture and design are likely to be part of planned events, experiences and talks. Nomad Studio—located in New York City—is well known for combining landscape architecture and other natural elements with the contemporary art and design elements that will be inclusive in the design. William E. Roberts and Laura Santín’s award-winning work has been seen worldwide and has been focused on the social and environmental impact of landscape design.

Past projects have illustrated this relationship, such as their recent work at Northpark shopping center in Dallas, where they are the landscape architects of record, both indoors and outdoors, and where these photos were taken. The plants are often in conflict with the containers that hold them, and yet they never seem like they don’t belong. Nevertheless, in spite of the conflict between landscape and structural elements, a harmony results, which is always appealing and attractive, drawing the eye and the viewers curiosity.

The mall exterior also feature plantings that at once redefine the straight lines of the building's contours while the plants maintain an unruly, wild feeling. Courtesy NOMAD Architecture

The mall exterior also feature plantings that at once redefine the straight lines of the building’s contours while the plants maintain an unruly, wild feeling.
Courtesy NOMAD Architecture

There you will see their commitment to combining art and design with natural elements, where landscaping must fit in with existing rigidity and formality of a shopping mall—an upscale shopping mall, to be sure—but still a mall building with lots of right angles and defined spaces. The plants take the role of obliterating the solidity of a permanent structure while simultaneously espousing the wild and uncontrollable. Also, last year NOMAD’s work appeared in the 15th edition of the juried exhibition the “International Garden Festival,” held in Quebec.

Three large pumpkins--grouped  in succession--adorn the center of the mall. Courtesy NOMAD Architecture

Three large pumpkins–grouped in succession–adorn the center of the mall.
Courtesy NOMAD Architecture

Thanks to a generous Innovation Fund grant from the Regional Arts Commission St. Louis, CAM is able to present this green installation as well as another in the courtyard in summer 2016. This new exhibition program represents a first for the museum: The staff is for the first time working with living installations by landscape architects, and takes another step forward in fulfilling CAM’s goal of using every wall, space or closet with art. In the case of the patio, however, the landscape installations will create an entirely new gallery space, enlarging and augmenting the visitor experience.

For more information, please visit the CAM website.

Follow Christopher Reilly on Twitter @ChristoReilly

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