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Welcome to Urban By Design Online! This blog is a notebook of my travels as a city planner, historic preservationist and nonprofit advocate. It's a virtual collection of the many things that I adore, featuring cities, the arts, architecture, gardens, interior design, and retail. Enjoy! - Deena
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Entries in Riverdale (1)

Friday
Oct152010

Wave Hill's architecture and design

 

 It’s officially fall, which means that I always sigh, because it is one step closer to my least favorite season, winter. On the bright side, the leaves will soon be colorful, and the apple harvest this year is rather abundant. 

Last week marked another milestone of sorts when I made a short trip to Wave Hill in the Bronx for their annual plant sale. Yes, my thoughts moved quickly to consider the beauty of next spring’s perennial blooms, even though autumn was barely a week old.  There were so many plants to choose from.

Wave Hill is an incredibly serene, and picturesque 28-acre public garden and art center in the historic Riverdale section.   It is a glorious urban oasis, filled with bountiful gardens, well-landscaped grounds, and spectacular views of both the Hudson River, and the Palisades. Since 1960, Wave Hill has been a cultural property owned by the City of New York.  “Wave Hill's mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.”
      

 
Wave Hill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  There are two original houses located on the property that remain in use for public activities.  The first is Wave Hill House, a Greek Revival home built in 1843-44 by William Lewis Morris, a New York City attorney. The area at the time was a place where many had summer residences.  Throughout the years it was leased to prominent New Yorkers, including Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. and his son (and the future U.S. president) Teddy.  Other famous tenants included the writer Mark Twain, and later Arturo Toscanini. Today the space houses art, a café, and rooms used for meetings.
 The terrace in the rear of the Wave Hill House is a quiet sanctuary that provides a lovely setting for outdoor dining at the Wave Hill Cafe.

 

 

Glyndor House, a Georgian Revival style house built in 1926. It was designed by New York architects Butler and Corse. Currently this space is in use for art exhibitions and is known as the Glyndor Gallery.

 

In 2004, Wave Hill added the Perkins Visitor Center.  The center was designed by Robert A.M. Stern architects. A signature aspect of the design is the board-and-batten exterior of the building’s northern portion. Traditionally used in Hudson River Valley cottages from the 1840’s, the choice of board-and-batten was inspired by Wave Hill’s setting overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. Fieldstone piers and foundation, as well as a copper roof, complement this construction and relate to the fieldstone façade of Wave Hill House, located within view of the Visitor Center. It is also home of the Shop at Wave Hill which recently saw a significant spike in sales of its Wave Hill Chair.  

The Wave Hill Chair
Wave Hill also has a place within the design world for their Wave Hill Chairs, which are scattered about the grounds. It’s not unusual to spot visitors sitting in them to read a book, while painting landscape portraits on easels, or napping.  The chair was recently featured in The Los Angeles Times which said, “the slat back and seat construction are reminiscent of Adirondack chairs and have an eye-catching architectural presence.” 
From Wave Hill: 
The chair is based on a 1918 design by the acclaimed Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld. The Rietveld Chair -- part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art -- was modified in the early 1960s and has been used exclusively at Wave Hill for many years. Comfortable, sturdy, and compatible with virtually any architectural form, the Wave Hill Chair enhances any formal garden or natural landscape.