Olana’s Summer House Designers: IN THEIR OWN WORDS

by Melanie Hasbrook

Mark Prezorski, Senior Vice President & Creative Director

“I am building a house and am principally my own Architect. I give directions all day and draw plans and working drawings all night.”
— Frederic Church, 1871

“I am busy landscape architecturing!”
— Frederic Church, 1887

The words of Frederic Church were highlighted in Olana’s recent exhibition, Follies, Function & Form: Imagining Olana’s Summer House. This design exhibition, which unites 21 visionary architects and landscape architects, allowed The Olana Partnership to feature aspects of Frederic Church’s talents which are sometimes overlooked. In addition to being a famous landscape painter, Church also viewed himself as an architect and landscape architect while creating his great masterpiece, Olana. Our exhibition has since traveled to the Center for Architecture in New York, which is a perfect venue. From the start, we collaborated closely with the New York chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY) and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA-NY).

When Jane Smith (our exhibition co-curator) and I invited architects and landscape architects to submit a concept sketch of their design, we also asked them to submit an artist statement about their particular idea. These statements were included on our exhibition labels and in our printed catalogue. As we prepare for a panel discussion related to our exhibition at the Center for Architecture, I have revisited these original artist statements. Here are some excerpted examples, in the words of our summer house designers.