Studio Zewde unveils eight acres of new green space at Dia Beacon in Hudson Valley

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Studio Zewde unveils eight acres of new green space at Dia Beacon in Hudson Valley

Studio Zewde has designed a meadow landscape that adds eight acres to Dia Beacon’s verdant 32-acre site. (Courtesy Studio Zewde)

Since 2003, curators at Dia Beacon have leveraged the institution’s verdant 32-acre site in Beacon, New York, by commissioning outdoor installations for its grounds from world famous artists. Now, Studio Zewde, a Harlem-based office founded by Sara Zewde, is designing a major new landscape project at Dia Beacon, giving the museum an additional eight acres of nature access.

The design will cover a swath of land behind Dia’s main building, the former Nabisco Box Factory, with new landscaping that considers time, water, and Indigenous movements through the land. It will also consider  Dia Beacon’s existing landscape designed by Robert Irwin in the early 2000s. “History’s impressions on the land that now hosts Dia Beacon inspire our design for the landscape,” Zewde offered.

Site Plan (Courtesy Studio Zewde)

Studio Zewde is adding significant stormwater resiliency to the site by converting three acres of lawn to native meadowlands. This component, museum officials said, is essential given the nearby Hudson River’s rising water-levels in recent years. The landscape project will help fortify the site from the effects of global warming.

The intervention by Studio Zewde on the banks of the Hudson will “choreograph the presence of water” through the site, Studio Zewde said, into its extensive meadowlands and underground storage. At Dia Beacon, more than 90 native meadow species and nearly 400 new trees and shrubs will be interspersed throughout the meadowlands. This will further help the site’s resiliency.

The revamped property considers the time, water, and Indigenous movements on the site. (Courtesy Studio Zewde)

“Our work together with Dia Art Foundation has been a process of listening, seeing,” Zewde continued, “and amplifying the patterns of movement, water, material, and culture across the site over time. The design’s landforms, the meadows, and the embrace of water in the landscape are a means of managing the 21st-century challenge of rising water but are also a means of remembering.”

Pathways move visitors through the landscape (Studio Zewde)
The expanded green space builds on the landscape designed by Robert Irwin. (Courtesy Studio Zewde)

Jessica Morgan, a director at Dia added: “The landscape surrounding Dia Beacon has always been essential to the experience of the museum. This new project extends this immersive approach to site, and Studio Zewde have introduced an extensive, undulating meadowland—all of which will be free to the public. Their design for the south landscape responds holistically to the location, its histories, and current conditions, as well as Dia’s own connection with Land art.”

The landscape design considers stormwater resiliency, given its proximity to the rising Hudson River. (Courtesy Studio Zewde)

Studio Zewde is working in conjunction with Sherwood Design Engineers on the project, as well as Larry Weaner Landscape Associates, and Pine & Swallow Environmental.

Construction at Dia Beacon will begin in summer 2024, and the new landscape will be open to the public in 2025.