The Doris Duke Monument Foundation (DDMF) has commissioned Maya Lin, the internationally renowned artist and architect, to create an installation at Queen Anne Square in Newport, Rhode Island. The project has a dual purpose: to honor the memory of Doris Duke, who championed Newport’s historic preservation and left an enduring legacy of historic architecture; and as a tribute to the effect of historic preservation as a catalyst for community revitalization.
The new project, titled The Meeting Room, will honor the preservation work of Doris Duke, who created the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) in 1968 to preserve the city’s 18th century buildings. Completed entirely with private funds, the project is a gift to the city of Newport. Chosen for her skill in creating artistic and architectural installations sensitive to the context of the site, Maya Lin will work with accomplished landscape designer Edwina von Gal. They intend to create a space that embodies the historic personality of the city and is well-matched to the scale of the park. Distinguished Newport stone carver Nick Benson, whose family has collaborated with Maya Lin on past projects, will also contribute to the project. New features include a fountain, additional tree plantings, and seating areas created from historic stone foundations. The project received approval from the City Council in December 2011.
The Meeting Room’s design focuses on reassembling stone foundations that form outdoor rooms representing the scale of and type of materials used in Newport’s historic buildings. The stones for the project are reclaimed from local historic houses that have been re-sited and placed on new foundations. An exciting feature of the project will be a newly designed fountain by Maya Lin. New tree plantings were chosen based on native species that historically grew in Newport. The height of the trees is designed to allow a view across the park, and crucially, of historic Trinity Church, a city landmark which sits at the top of the park.
The site for The Meeting Room was chosen because Queen Anne Square represents one of Doris Duke’s most significant public works in Newport.
Created between 1976 and 1978, Queen Anne Square was a collaboration between Doris Duke and Trinity Church to create a town green in what had been a congested retail, commercial and warehouse area.
“I am excited and honored to be creating a work at the center of historic Newport. My interest in time, memory and history originally drew me to learn about the rich history of this area and discover the structures that once existed at this site. To be able to create a landscape that reveals the historic aspect of Queen Anne Square in which these physical structures, some of which have stood here for 300 years, hold the history of the people who lived and worked there through time, is an important aspect to me and the project. The design is about sharing these spaces with the public. The foundations are created from reclaimed stones that were once part of historic homes. In doing so, we are building foundations that represent home, family and community through history. I imagine it to be a place where people gather together and also can reflect upon how Doris Duke helped preserve so many of these significant historic houses.”
Artist and Designer on The Meeting Room