by Daniel Fox
Event: The Tiber Project: Rome; Rivers and Art as Catalysts for Urbanism: A Dialogue with New York
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.29.07
Speakers: Kristin Jones — President, Tevereterno; Gennaro Farina — Director of Historic Center, Department of City Planning, Rome; Patricia C. Philips — public art critic, Interim Director, Minetta Brooks; Meredith Johnson — Assistant Director, Minetta Brooks; Michael Fishman — advisory board member, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance; Leni Schwendinger — Leni Schwendinger Light Projects; Moderator Ernest Hutton, AICP, Assoc. AIA — Hutton Associates & New York New Visions
Sponsors: AIA NY Planning and Urban Design Committee; AIA NY International Committee
The Italian Cultural Institute described TEVERETERNO in the following terms. “Motivated by the conviction that art is a powerful catalyst for environmental awareness and urban renewal, TEVERETERNO is a unique multi-disciplinary project that aims to contribute to the revitalization of Rome’s Tiber River by establishing a lively public gathering place — the Piazza Tevere — on a central section of the Tiber between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini.”
Each year international artists are invited to create innovative, site-specific art installations to stimulate a dialogue between nature and the city, between history and present day. It is with these environmental works that TEVERETERNO aspires to contribute to the revival of rivers worldwide, according to its website. Currently, the project is a cornerstone to the new city plan developed by Rome’s Department of City Planning.
Continuing to engage with architectural initiatives abroad, the AIA New York Chapter organized a dialogue as a follow-up to the initial presentation at the Italian Cultural Institute, on March 26. Kristin Jones, President of TEVERETERNO, and Gennaro Farina, Director of the Historic Center in Rome’s City Planning Office, presented the project and a summary of current planning efforts along the Tiber River. Indeed, this sequence settling development on the heels of temporary installations symbolized the aspirations of TEVERETERNO itself.
A highly-sensitive site-specific intervention, TEVERETERNO could not be simply transported to New York, panelists noted. Rather, the Tiber River project has pedagogic value for New York City designers in its attention to undervalued and discarded waterfront properties, stated Michael Fishman of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. One would need completely new artistic and formal concepts to develop projects along these lines in any of the five boroughs, responded Leni Schwendinger, partner of Leni Schwendinger Light Projects. In any case, Farina stressed that the main objective in such development remains a desire to bring the city to the river, and the river to the city. Participants of the question and answer period noted that the combination of the arts with public/government development in so called discarded spaces serve to greatly enliven cityscapes.
Earlier in the day, Jones, Farina, Fishman, and Anna Maria Rosati, TEVERETERNO’s Executive Director, met with the AIANY Emerging NY Architects Committee to begin a dialogue about creating a bi-continental international competition. Finally, a conference is being planned for this fall to pursue opportunities further.
James Karl Fischer, AIA, RIBA, Ph.D, co-chairs the AIA NY International Committee with John Steigerwald, AIA, and Jonathan Wimpenny, AIA, RIBA.