Vertical Gardens

A project of SEA (Social Environmental Aesthetics), Vertical Gardens was an exhibition of architectural models, renderings, drawings, photographs and ephemera that depicted or imagined a vertical farm, urban garden or green roof. It featured more than 20 projects, both imaginary and real, by artists and architects that envisioned solutions for building greener urban environments. The past decade has seen a greater emergence of green roofs and vertical gardens created by artists, designers, architects and urban gardeners to combat the lack of flora in the city. Buildings around the world — from the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, to the Queens Botanical Garden in New York — have embraced green walls or roofs for all their economical, environmental, and aesthetic values. Vertical farms and gardens are also being envisioned as new ways to feed local and organic foods to city dwellers. Largely based on the principles of hydroponics, vertical gardens would also be mostly self-sustaining because they would capture large amounts of natural sunlight and water, and could use wind as an energy source. In a country where cities are suffocated by high rises, cement and industrial materials, where can green space exist? As this exhibition demonstrated, one possible answer was “up.” These and other urban parks and gardens provided areas for socialization and recreation; a location for a city farm or community land-trust; an outlet through which hundreds of people could learn about farming and agriculture; and the addition of much needed plant and animal life to the otherwise concrete jungle.

SEA and Vertical Gardens conceived by Papo Colo.


Abruzzo Bodziak Architects; ATOPIA with The Harrison Studio; Bob Bingham and Claire Hoch; Patrick Blanc; Bohn & Viljoen Architects; Dickson Despommier, Eric Ellingsen, SOA Architects, Blake Kurasek; Evo Design with Mica Gross and Rogers Design Group; Todd Haiman; Haus-Rucker-Inc.; Edmundo Ortega and Dianne Rohrer (Co-Founders, Mundo Verde Ortega); Claude Boullevraye de Passillé; Oda Projesi; Rael San Fratello Architects (Virginia San Fratello and Ronald Rael); Naomi Reis; Roomservices (Evren Uzer and Otto Von Busch); SITE (Denise MC Lee, Sara Stracey and James Wines)

Also featuring photographic documentation of existing buildings containing vertical farms, gardens or green roofs, including those by Hundertwasser; Renzo Piano with Chong Partners and Stantec; Emilio Ambasz & Associates; Humpert Wolnitzek; Chad Oppenheim Architecture and Design; Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership, Downs/Archambault & Partners, LMN Architects; Scandinavian Green Roof Institute; Conservation Design Forum of Chicago and Atelier Dreieitl of Germany; Enrique Browne and Borja Huidobro with Ricardo Judson and Rodrigo Iturriaga; and others.


Jeanette Ingberman, Herb Tam and Lauren Rosati


A FREE two-day event celebrating Earth Day 2009.

6 – 7:30pm

Dickson D. Despommier, Professor of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences and Microbiology at Columbia University, talked about his work as the Founder and Director of the Vertical Farm Project, looking at how agriculture can be adapted and integrated into city living.

James Wines, Founder/President of SITE, Environmental Design, gave a talk on the “Economy of Means”, which looks at ways to meet the demands of economic crisis, energy efficiency and sustainable design, without a loss of aesthetic quality. It credits some of the most revolutionary triumphs of the 20th century – including Picasso’s collage, Duchamp’s conceptual art, Le Corbusier’s “machines for living in” and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonion houses – which confirm that big ideas can frequently be realized through a great economy of means. The information also covers a selection of materially and environmentally prudent contributions to the Radical Architecture movement of the 1970s and 1980s. The program concludes with a range of innovative proposals for the present era; including buildings and public spaces that use frugality itself as an inspirational raw material.


The Lower East Side Ecology Center hosted a FREE indoor composting workshop. Learn how to set up and maintain a worm bin in your apartment. Full compost bin setups were available at $55 each, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

SEA Poetry Series, No. 1

Kicking off our SEA Poetry Series, poet Jonathan Skinner read a selection of his poems and presented a talk on “third landscapes,” entropoetics, and the coming planetary Pangea-garden on invasive futures. A Q & A and reception followed. Conceived and organized by E.J. McAdams, poet and Associate Director of Philanthropy at The Nature Conservancy, New York City. Free. Cash bar.

Jonathan Skinner’s poetry collections include With Naked Foot (Little Scratchpad, 2008) and Political Cactus Poems (Palm Press, 2005). Recent poetry has appeared in onedit #12. Skinner edits the journal ecopoetics, which features creative-critical intersections between writing and ecology. His essays on the poets Ronald Johnson and Lorine Niedecker appeared recently in volumes published by the National Poetry Foundation and by University of Iowa Press, respectively. His essay on “Boundary Work in Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s Pollen” can be read in the online journal How2 and his essay on Bernadette Mayer’s Studying Hunger can be read on ThoughtMesh. The piece “Ethno Plunderphonics: On Some Mockingbird Transcriptions” was included in the journal Intervalles. Skinner teaches in the Environmental Studies Program, at Bates College in Central Maine, where he makes his home.


Wednesday, June 10, 7-9pm
Poet Marcella Durand reads her work. Concurrent with the second SEA exhibition of 2009, End of Oil.

Vertical Gardens, 2009
Unique box includes:
– 37-page loose-sheet catalog with exhibition texts
– Black and white images of each of the artists’ works
– Full color catalog frontispiece

ISBN 0-913263-49-4
8.5 x 11 inches
Edition of 100


Exit Art worked with a curatorial model called ConceptPlus, which began with a theme or concept that was then publicized through a call for proposals. For each ConceptPlus idea, the curators first chose a group of artists that formed the base of the exhibition. Then Exit Art issued an international call for artists to propose new or newly-contextualized work in response to a given theme or cultural condition. The exhibition was then curated by Exit Art’s curatorial staff, who viewed all the proposals for new work and work samples submitted by artists and select projects to be presented and/or commissioned for the exhibition. Every artist who submited a proposal had equal access to the curators, regardless of their previous experience, making ConceptPlus a highly democratic curatorial model.


This exhibition was supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Bloomberg LP, Carnegie Corporation, Jerome Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, O’Grady Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Public Funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, Starry Night Fund at The Tides Foundation, Exit Art’s Board of Directors and our members.