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Kraus Campo, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member sherpes
N 40° 26.484 W 079° 56.550
17T E 589684 N 4477287
Quick Description: landscape art on the rooftop of a university campus building
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 9/9/2008 6:17:39 AM
Waymark Code: WM4N0V
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Hikenutty
Views: 25

Long Description:
Commissioned by university trustee Jill Gansman Kraus (A’74) and Peter Kraus of New York City, the Kraus Campo, a unique gathering place symbolic of Carnegie Mellon’s multidisciplinary culture, is the first project in the university’s plan to integrate campus life with the contemporary artwork of its renowned alumni.

Located on the roof of the new Posner Center between the College of Fine Arts and the Tepper School of Business, the Campo, designed and created by artist Mel Bochner (A’62) and landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, is an integrated work combining art and landscape design. Rare among projects of this kind, it challenges the very definition of a garden: it is both garden-as-sculpture and sculpture-as-garden.

“The original inspiration came from the Greek agora, an open marketplace where teachers of different philosophies held classes side by side, and where students could listen to their teachers debate, all while walking along,” wrote Bochner in an op-ed piece for The Tartan. “I imagined a place where walking and getting lost in conversation could become an active, rather than a passive pleasure; a place to meet friends and colleagues, or encounter strangers from other disciplines—a literal marketplace of ideas.”


At the heart of the garden sits the Campo, a 25 by 60 by 3-foot, tile-covered sculptural platform based on the shape of a French curve, a tool common to artists, architects and engineers. Black numbers imbedded in white tiles that cover the platform are indicative of the numerical sequencing patterns in much of Bochner's art.

Bright orange pathways swing out from the center platform winding through drifting mounds of evergreen boxwoods, brightly flowered azaleas and semi-dwarf red level Japanese barberry. The designers chose these plantings for their visual qualities, hardiness and compatibility with the four seasons of western Pennsylvania. The composition of the plantings provides a counterpoint of colors and shapes that offer a different character in each of the four seasons.

“Our concept behind the paths was to choreograph the experience of a long walk in a small space,” wrote Bochner. “The meandering paths, rising and falling as they curve between the undulating mounds, heighten one’s awareness of one’s constantly changing orientation to the site, all while giving the surreal sensation of stepping into orangeness.”

The garden also includes a 6 by 58-foot-long, tiled quotation on the Posner Hall wall from philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The words of the quotation have been transcribed in reverse order.

The quotation reads: “IN WALK THEY DIRECTION THE CHANGED HAVE PEOPLE THAT THAN MORE NO SAID HAVE YOU THAT MIND YOUR IN CLEAR BE SHOULD YOU THEN BUT :LIKE YOU IF THAT IT CALL CAN YOU COURSE OF .DAY ONE BACKWARDS WALKING START SHOULD MEN IF DIRECTION ITS CHANGE WOULD TIME :THIS TO COMES ENTROPY OF LAW THE AND 'TIME OF DIRECTION THE ABOUT SAYS EDDINGTON WHAT”

“The idea was to provide a text, like a caption, to accompany the garden, but one that critiques the very idea of those ‘elevated sentiments’ engraved on institutional facades around the world. The quotation, when deciphered, reveals itself as a metaphor for the garden as a labyrinth,” Bochner explained.

ABOUT THE GARDEN

Artist Mel Bochner and Landscape Architect Michael Van Valkenburgh and his staff, in a unique collaboration have designed a new garden for the Carnegie Mellon University campus. The “Kraus Campo” has been conceived as a single integrated work combining art and landscape design. Rare among projects of this kind, it challenges the very definition of a garden: it is both a garden-as-a-sculpture and a-sculpture-as-a-garden.

Located between the College of Fine Arts building and the Tepper School of Business, the area offers a meeting place symbolic of Carnegie Mellon’s multidisciplinary philosophy. Along the meandering paths of the garden and upon its central platform, students and faculty can relax at this communal crossroads of the arts, business, science and humanities.

Bochner and Van Valkenburgh saw that the Carnegie Mellon campus consisted primarily of grand early 20th-century Beaux Arts architecture and large formal lawns, but included no intimate garden spaces. They wanted their design to fill this void.

“Most great universities have honorific spaces such as a quadrangle lawns and most have gardens. Carnegie Mellon has a big main lawn space but no garden,” said Van Valkenburgh.

“The garden has personal significance to me since a work of mine will become a permanent part of Carnegie Mellon University, which became a permanent part of me, by having grown up in Pittsburgh and gone to school there. It is great to know that my artwork will enter the everyday life of people who live in the city,” said Bochner.

Artist Statement

Over the past three years I spent a great deal of time on the CMU campus studying how students use the public/common spaces. What became apparent to me was that it was unnecessary to duplicate any existing outdoor areas. After talking to many people on campus I began to visualize a unique kind of garden. The original inspiration came from the Greek agora, an open marketplace where teachers of different philosophies held classes side by side, and where students could listen to their teachers debate, all while walking along. I imagined a place where walking and getting lost in conversation could become an active rather than a passive pleasure; a place to meet friends and colleagues, or encounter strangers from other disciplines…a literal marketplace of ideas.


As the project developed, I realized the site needed a center, a heart to circulate around (and a place to sit down and have lunch). The word campo comes from the Latin campus–an open field. The most famous campo is in the Italian city of Sienna, which, with its streets radiating out from the center like the arms of a starfish, suggested a model for the garden. If Italian architecture seems foreign to Pittsburgh, remember that the two greatest buildings in Pittsburgh are H.H. Richardson’s County Courthouse, an homage to medieval European architecture, and Henry Hornbostel’s masterpiece The College of Fine Arts, which references an encyclopedic range of the great monuments of the world, among them the cathedrals of central Italy.


Both Michael Van Valkenburgh, with whom I collaborated on the design of the garden, and I felt that the campus needed a space of fantasy and imagination, where one could escape from the daily pressures of academic life, somewhere not on the way to somewhere else. That is what we tried to build-- a place set apart, a world- in- itself.


In order to give the garden the feeling of being a world, it needed a central generating form. From the beginning I was certain that it had to be an organic form. How better to generate a set of curves than from the French curve? And what a happy coincidence that it resembled another historical signifier-- the artist’s palette. That engineers and artists no longer use these tools does not alter their ability to symbolize two entire cultures at a glance. Covering the French curve with numbers arranged in a random pattern (with the additional twist of a four-directional axial rotation) was inspired by the great black and white Roman mosaic floors at Pompeii and Herculaneum.


Our concept behind the paths was to choreograph the experience of a long walk in a small space. The meandering paths, rising and falling as they curve between the undulating mounds, heighten one’s awareness of their constantly changing orientation to the site, all while giving the surreal sensation of stepping into orangeness. The planting material was selected to have color that changes in spectacular and surprising patterns as the seasons progress.


Inscribed in tile on the back wall, is a quotation from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. It has been transcribed word-for-word in reverse order, an old and simple form of encryption. The idea was to provide a text, like a caption, to accompany the garden, but one that critiques the very idea of those “elevated sentiments” engraved on institutional facades around the world. The quotation, when deciphered, reveals itself as a metaphor for the garden as a labyrinth.

I hope our design offers all the desirable pleasures of a garden, including intellectual stimulation. But even beyond that I hope that it offers students a model—think for yourself, use your imagination, don’t worry about blending in, and keep in mind that sometimes you have to walk around in circles, or look at the world backwards, to see it as it really is.

Title: Kraus Campo

Artist: Mel Bochner

Media (materials) used: water-jet porcelain tile mounted on blue enamel-painted wall

Location (specific park, transit center, library, etc.): building

Date of creation or placement: 2004

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spiller150 visited Kraus Campo, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA 8/3/2012 spiller150 visited it