Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks

This exhibition for the Museum of the City of New York is a celebration of the texture and complexity of the urban fabric of New York City. The show illuminates the decisions to restore, demolish, and build anew that are continually being made throughout the city. The narrative is composed of three main parts: photographs by the architectural photographer Iwan Baan, a chronological history of the law and its implementation, and a series of built and unbuilt ‘responses’ to the law and its implementation.

Given the density of information at the room’s perimeter, we chose to angle wall panels forming a series of corrugated surfaces, much like the pages of an open book. This formal strategy allowed us to organize the material into curatorial sections and use the protruding edges of the panels for graphic titles.

Both the tables and the perimeter walls use bold graphics in green, black, and white to clearly delineate sections of content. On the tables, labels are integrated into an undulating pattern. Tile graphics are ‘sliced’, referencing the series of restorations, renovations and demolitions that have been stitched into the city fabric. The black floor and black walls contain the lower register of the room, separating it from the expanse above.

The expansive Iwan Baan photographs occupy the interior of three large hoods that are hung over the tables. These massive panoramas capture the accretion of thousands of decisions on the building scale, illustrating the effect on the city’s landscape. Quotes on the hood exterior bring strong points of view to the experience.