Total Environment (1986)

by Barbara Neijna (1937 - )

Photo Caption: Photo Gerardo Ramirez © 2020 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title

    Total Environment

  • Artist

    Barbara Neijna (1937 - )

  • Year

    1986

  • Location

    Independence Place Condominiums, 6th Street and Locust Walk

  • Medium

    Painted aluminum sculpture, paving, landscaping, lighting

  • Dimensions

    Plaza 180′ by 180′;
    maximum sculpture height 60′;
    pedestrian sidewalk 50′ x 300′

  • Themes

    Women and Public Art

Commissioned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Owned by the property owner

At A Glance

  • Artist Barbara Neijna created a complete visual environment of sculpture, trees, flowers, ornamental paving, and lighting

  • The artwork relates the space both to the architecture of the city and to the park atmosphere of neighboring Washington Square

  • The sculpture consists of two principal arrangements and a number of smaller elements

When she was shown the blueprints for the Independence Place towers, artist Barbara Neijna conceived an artwork far more ambitious than the “central pedestal sculpture” that had originally been envisioned for the 1% Redevelopment Authority Percent for Art requirement.

All of the elements are painted a stark, brilliant white, creating a unity from apparent diversity.

For the plaza at the main entrance to the complex, she created a complete visual environment of sculpture, trees, flowers, ornamental paving, and lighting. The idea, she explained, was to relate the space both to the architecture of the city (specifically the Society Hill area) and to the park atmosphere of neighboring Washington Square. The sculpture would include “majestically scaled” forms as well as forms of a more human size.

The sculpture consists of two principal arrangements and a number of smaller elements. On a low platform in the plaza’s center stand a tall column of cylinders, a square wall, and an arch linked to a low curving wall with a column that supports a thin form reminiscent of a curved lamppost. At the condominium entrance rises the second major assemblage of shapes, including an arch over the doorway and columns supporting a drive-through portal. All of the elements are painted a stark, brilliant white, creating a unity from apparent diversity.

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).

 

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