Award-winning landscape architect to discuss art, artists and public parks at URI, Nov. 14

Media Contact: Todd McLeish 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. – November 6, 2002 – Turning an artist’s vision into a public park has become one of Nicholas Quennell’s greatest challenges and biggest successes. Working with such renowned painters and sculptors as Claes Oldenberg, Barbara Kruger, Maya Lin, and Alice Aycock, the award-winning landscape architect has been forced to change the way he works to accommodate the creative minds of these artists.
Quennell will discuss his approach to these projects and others in a lecture at the University of Rhode Island on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the White Hall auditorium on the Kingston Campus. The lecture, entitled “Public Landscapes, Private Dreams: Treading the Fine Line Between Tradition and Trouble,” is part of the URI Community Planning and Landscape Architecture lecture series and is free and open to the public.
Quennell is principal of the landscape architecture and planning firm Quennell, Rothschild & Partners in New York City. Since 1968 his firm has restored numerous award-winning parks and open spaces throughout the U.S. and abroad, ranging from small lots to sites of several thousand acres. Among their projects are the Hudson River Park in Manhattan, Central Park’s Children’s Zoo, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and a master plan for the Princeton University campus.
“What sets us apart from other firms is the work we’ve done with artists over the years,” Quennell said. “They require a different kind of approach and a different way of working, and so the dynamics of these projects are very interesting.
“For instance, painter Jennifer Bartlett was awarded a commission to design a public garden, but she didn’t know much about gardening. Turning her vision into something that was buildable and horticulturally viable was a challenge.”
Another challenge Quennell faces when working with artists is conflicting egos. He said that, unlike more traditional design projects, the primary vision for the design comes from the artist rather than from among his firm’s staff. “There’s an educational process that takes place, but over time I’ve found artists to be relatively easy to work with. When they realize that hedges don’t grow the way they envisioned or that water is going to pool in a different way than they intended, they say ‘fine, we’ll rethink it.’”
For more information about the lecture call the URI Department of Community Planning and Landscape Architecture at 874-2249 or email