Designed by Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo & Associates (Eero Saarinen’s successor firm), and opened in 1967, the Ford Foundation building is one of the most beloved in Manhattan, in large part because Kiley’s semi-tropical garden rising to the upper floors can be seen from 42nd Street. It beckons pedestrians from outside, and then embraces them in greenery.
This is not organic architecture, asserts the Galinsky guide to worldwide buildings, because the steel girders and granite facing, the highly polished brick floors, and the modernist form are all “harshly inorganic.” But the contrast makes the humanizing effect of Kiley’s landscape that much stronger.
One sobering note from the Cultural Landscape Foundation: many of Kiley’s plantings that failed to thrive in Ford’s unique indoor environment were eventually replaced with subtropical plantings that were better suited but that failed “to honor Kiley’s vision—diverging dramatically in form, scale and texture.” And the Landscape Foundation is surely right in suggesting that the Ford Foundation should play a substantial role in educating the public about Kiley’s design approach, using its web site to provide information and details.
WHERE: 320 East 43rd Street
PUBLIC: Open to the public regular business hours on weekdays; closed weekends and holidays