Olana Exhibition Continues in NYC

In his 1886 “Plan of Olana,” Church designed the 250-acre property in great detail, but left one structure with only the label “Summer House.” The structure does not exist today, nor do blueprints for its design. The Olana Partnership, in collaboration with the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NY) and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA‐NY), held a design exhibition at Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, New York. Titled Follies, Function & Form: Imagining Olana’s Summer House, the exhibition united noted architects and landscape architects, including West 8’s Adriaan Geuze, in a public interpretation of the unbuilt component of Frederic Church’s Olana House. The exhibition initiated a conversation between participating designers about innovative design ideas within the historic context of Olana. The designers were free to explore historic or contemporary visions for the Summer House, ensuring diverse responses and an exciting conversation. It debuted to the public on August 14, 2016.

The historic home inspired many. The architectural style of the main house is Persian, and the landscape design revolves around ideals of the Hudson River School of Painting. The School fostered Nineteenth Century notions of romanticizing the landscape and man’s relationship with nature, concurrent with New World exploration and the first intentions of preserving land as National Parks. The paintings of the Hudson River School were usually dramatic, picturesque scenes intended to fill viewers with awe and reverence toward nature. As a member of the School, Church drew on many themes that contributed to these feelings while designing Olana House, and aimed to capture very specific views with different landscape design techniques. Adriaan was inspired by the themes, among others, of the sublime, of atmospheric ambiance and light, and of veiled landscapes and framed views. He translated this inspiration into a design of the 21st century. A sketch of his Summer House concept is featured at right, along with study model.

These pieces will now be on display at the Center for Architecture in New York City. There will be an opening reception of the exhibition at the Center for Architecture on January 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. The reception requires RSVP by phone or email by January 24. The exhibition will remain on display until April 22. Galleries are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 8pm and Saturday from 11am to 5pm. Entrance to the Galleries is free. The Center advises to check the online calendar ahead of your visit.

To learn more about Follies, Function and Form: Imagining Olana’s Summer House, visit www.olana.org.