To watch Claire Weisz in action at a community board meeting is to see an architect slice through the arch speak and level with the locals. This is no small feat in a city where talking local in Inwood differs from talking local on the Upper West Side, Hunts Point, or Battery Park City, all places where Weisz’s
The partners also spend a good deal of time studying the work of visual artists. “We take a lot of inspiration, but no obvious visual references, from post-minimalist artists like Richard Tuttle and Al Taylor,” said Mark Yoes. “We especially like the way these artists create visual conundrums with such simple means.”
Indeed, the zipper bench at Peter Minuit Plaza in lower Manhattan could easily pass for sculpture. But here too, the essence of the design boils down to cooperation. “The zipper bench started out as an urban design problem, because there were a lot of private development plans that might have caused the developer to look at the esplanade as their own front yard,” said Weisz. The bench starts as two benches facing in opposite directions before melding into one surface. The public has a choice of two views: the bustle of development or the calm of the park.