Calvin Tsao, Architect, Writes in Support of "Greenwood Pond: Double Site"


On February 7, 2024, Calvin Tsao wrote the following letter to the Des Moines Art Center (DMAC) Director Kelly Baum concerning plans to demolish Greenwood Pond: Double Site, a site-specific installation by the internationally acclaimed leader of the land art movement, Mary Miss, commissioned for the Art Center’s permanent collection. The work, which opened in 1996, is in a diminished condition with some sections fenced off, suggesting the DMAC has not fulfilled its contractual obligation to “reasonably protect and maintain” the work. The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) is calling for the DMAC to reverse it demolition decision and, instead, to engage in meaningful consultations with the artist and others to find a solution that restores the artwork and develops a long-term, ongoing maintenance plan. 




Dear Director Baum,  

I write in support of preserving artist Mary Miss’s seminal piece, ‘Greenwood Pond, Double Site’ 1989-96, that your museum commissioned.   

I understand that despite efforts to maintain the work over the years, it has fallen into disrepair. I find it very distressing, as it is the one piece of Mary’s work that is actually in a museum’s hands. The others, such as “In South Cove, a Public Park in Battery Park City “ were public commissions.    

As an institution specifically charged with public awareness and appreciation of art, it seems a real pity that a piece of artwork would be destroyed. The role of a museum is to safeguard and champion works of art. It would belittle the value and importance of art to the public when a museum would commission work and then doesn’t give it the highest priority to maintain it with the utmost of care.   

As an architect, I accept that works of architecture may live out its life span, because its purpose is to respond to the needs of the times.   

However, Mary’s work, which seemingly falls into an intersection between art and landscape architecture, it nevertheless belongs ultimately to the former and deserves to be preserved in perpetuity. There I implore you to reconsider, not only because of the work, but also because of the message you are sending out to the world as to how art is being valued.   


Calvin Tsao

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