Photo-Example: Corrected; Photo: U Shin Kim
new yorkThe “21 Questions” is back with an eye on New York creators. Signe Nielsen is a landscape architect with more than 40 years of experience in New York. Firm, MNLADesigned Hudson River Park; The small islandIn collaboration with Heatherwick Studios; And of Governor Island Master PlanCollaborating with the West 8. Nielsen is the President of the City Public Design Commission.
Name die Mark Nelson
Age die- 71
Work Landscaping Architect
What is hanging over your bed?
It is a window on the south side covered with vegetation. Because I can control my temperature, I have Mediterranean-growing plants — bougainvillea, jasmine, citrus, olive, and epiphyllum — that bloom only at night and last for a day. I lived in Greece for a while and spent a lot of time in that part of the world. It struck me just like a plant that loves cold at night and warms up during the day, why not?
What was your first job in New York?
When I was in high school, I was a nurse’s assistant at Lnox Hill Hospital. I do not think hospitals have these jobs. I believe the word was candy strip. Most of the time, I made beds, cleaned the kitchen sink, and picked up food. What else does a 15-year-old do?
What color are you always attracted to?
purple. It is the only flower in our climate that blooms from March to November. I teach planting design at the Pratt Institute and when we get to the color discussion I talk about monochromatic and polychromatic and complimentary colors. And I said let’s take pink as an example. Based on my experience with clients, many people have a different view of what purple is. Some tended to Rose, even Fuchsia, to Perwinink. I liked the whole spectrum.
Which art or heritage do you find most appealing?
I have a piece called Lovejordan by English artists Yellow fever. It’s big – maybe two by three feet – and a little one-and-a-half-inch tall bottles full of crazy yellow powders, like “cat pies”, “banana dichoris” and “submarine.” “I do not own regular items and all the bottles are neatly arranged. What attracted me to this was the amazing idea of yellow.
Which New York person would you like to hang out with?
Michael Bloomberg. He appointed me to the Public Design Commission and because of that I know him well in the administration. I have great respect for his leadership, his views on climate change are incredible, and I find him a very interesting person to talk to.
What was the last thing you did with your hands?
I helped develop a presentation model. Computer programs and three-dimensional computer programs displace physical models, and when architects always build models, landscape architects have little interest because the pages are so large that they cannot convey a sense of proportion at that time. But there was a job interview on this subject and we felt we had to do something that differentiated ourselves. We have built an entry model for the site.
Do you own multiple versions?
I collect small flower pots. It is an art form, and I will find one in every country I go to. I have glass, stone, ceramic – every culture has its own ceramics, so there are oxalate pottery, Japanese vases with beautiful glass and more. I put them on a shelf in my home office. Every time I go to the farmers’ market to pick flowers, I look for a vase that will meet them.
Which New York City Museum do you always return to?
I have to say Met. And why? Because I just want to get lost. I go to a Greek collection, then I find myself in a certain medieval part, and then I go on a Chinese pottery. According to many museums, it is not crowded and if it is crowded, you can always go somewhere else.
What do you always have next to your computer?
A bottle of water, a stand for my laptop, pictures of my grandchildren, not much hell!
Where is the best view of the city?
I’m going to be a little more personal and I think the best view is from a small island. It is important to remember that we are on an island and that we are surrounded by water. From that point of view, you can see all of Lower Manhattan, West Side Beach, Statue of Liberty, New Jersey and Hudson River. It took us years and decades to reclaim our waterfront and I think we need to realize that.
Every time you see it, which building or object do you want to redesign?
We are going to have huge structures for the 5G network on our streets in New York. The network must look from tower to tower in order to stand on the light poles. In my opinion, it will be the worst thing that can happen to us. Even if they are not yet on the road, they will soon be and it will be a terrible load. They are about six feet high and 30 inches in diameter, not entirely compatible with the light pole. We have many types of light poles in the city and some are safe, some are moderately attractive, and some are ugly. But to see this thing on a light pole 30 feet in the air? It’s wrong, it’s a big deal.
What is one thing you are changing about your field?
I wish there were more opportunities for young people in landscape architecture to be more exposed to what we are designing. I despair because you are mostly behind a computer and your ability to be supernatural is very limited.
If you could live anywhere in New York City, where would you be?
I have lived in the same building in Tribeka for 45 years and I will definitely stay here. I live in a rented building and it is a ridiculous place. It is a historic district. The afternoon sunshine is beautiful. I know my neighbors. I feel comfortable. There are not many tourists. I love how Tribeka was created. When I arrived, there were all the warehouses and trucks. Dry cleaning, shoe repair, no school. As I grew up, the neighborhood began to grow. There are art galleries, clothing designers, and practical things like dry cleaners, liquor stores, and shoe repair shops.
What will you save if it stops producing?
I was storing paper. I write a lot and draw a lot. But with this, I have to stock up on colored pencils.
What do you do to get out of the creative eclipse?
I look at pictures. When I start a new project, I just need a Google image of the places I know. I also like Tessor. I do not use the same word twice in a sentence or certainly not in a paragraph, so I always want another word to say the same thing or say something correctly. Tessorus inspires me as I write, and images inspire me.
Where was your first NYC apartment and how much was the rent?
I live on West 16th Street between Seventh and Eighth. The New-Low Tennis Walk was a hike and the rent was about $ 250.
Where do you go to town to be alone?
I am crossing the Hudson River. Okay, I designed most and I just like to see people using the rooms. I have a complete collection of pictures of people who use places I did not expect in a way I did not expect. Incredibly encouraging. There was an unchanging part of the Board Walk around the park Tribeca and I turned to the curve and saw a whole wedding party. The bridesmaids were wearing coke and the bride was white and I lost consciousness.
What is the worst career advice you have ever had?
No one gave me bad advice, really. I had a wonderful counselor named Nicholas Cornell, and he always gave me incredible advice. The only bad advice I received when I decided to start my own business was self-discipline. Looking back, I knew nothing. I did not know what to do. I had a little boy and I thought I would only do this for two years and then I would go back and work for someone else. And you know, I’m here, after 40-something.
What gave you the person you want to get back?
I can’t think of anything, really. When I give, it is usually because I need someone more than I am. I have lent my daughter some “long-term loan” pictures, but I can always ask her if I want to return.
What is your favorite NYC restaurant and standard order?
My favorite restaurant is Takahachi in my neighborhood. I go there twice a week and my favorite order is box-packed salmon.
What descriptive phrase do you want to convey in your obit article?
I have given my life and perseverance to the public, so something about it – making people happier when they are out of the house.