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A Tale of Two Academies

A Tale of Two Academies

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Lenfest Plaza, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Lenfest Plaza, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts © LAND COLLECTIVE 2012

In October of 2011, the Pennsylvania Academy of he Fine Arts opened Lenfest Plaza at Broad and Cherry Streets in Philadelphia. Michael O’Reilly, producer at public television station WHYY created a short documentary film about the project for their Friday Arts Series. In it, O’Reilly highlights the artists, Claes Oldenburg and Jordan Griska, as well as the design of a socially-sustainable, arts-rich public space that serves to unify PAFA’s campus, the creation of an arts identifier for the State of Pennsylvania opposite the newly opened convention center, and the establishment of a gateway to Philadelphia’s Museum Mile.

August is the close of term for the 2011–2012 Class of Fellows at the American Academy in Rome. The year coalesced with Trustee’s Week and the Open Studio Exhibition, which showcased the work of all of the Fellows participating in the Arts. David A. Rubin was honored to receive visits in his studio by Academy Trustees Billie Tsien (Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects), Thom Mayne (Morphosis), Mary Margaret Jones (Hargreaves Associates), and Walter Hood (Hood Studio), among others. In addition to his Academy project, Food for Thought, Rubin’s studio showcased explorations in drawing, painting, and writing, and the formation and branding of David Rubin | LAND COLLECTIVE.

Food For Thought: Sustenance & Sustainability

American Academy in Rome - Existing Conditions © LAND COLLECTIVE 2012
American Academy in Rome – Existing Conditions © LAND COLLECTIVE 2012

The American Academy in Rome is an “Embassy of Knowledge”—an institution dedicated to the creation and dissemination of new thinking, American thinking—and like political embassies in foreign lands, whose ground is understood as U.S. soil, so too the American Academy in Rome should have a landscape that represents the best of American ideals. It should not only foster the creative process, allowing those in attendance to undertake their greatest work, it should be representative of the best of current and progressive sustainable practices and be a model institution among those here in Rome and elsewhere. The best landscape framework should holistically support the enterprise of this prestigious institution in a manner that allows it to be perpetually relevant—the model Academy. David A. Rubin’s American Academy in Rome Shoptalk outlines these goals and can be seen here: Food For Thought.

Landscape Architecture Fellows have long used the Academy’s campus as a template for exploration, and in the weeks following Open Studio, Rubin was honored to meet and collaborate with Alice Waters, whose Rome Sustainable Foods Project has transformed the Academy and the way that Fellows communicate with one another. She was generous in her suggestions for improving Food For Thought and the ideas that support it. Alice is a force of nature, and her efforts to improve America’s schools can be found here: The Edible Schoolyard Project.