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A Clearing in the Streets

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Modern Brooklyn Garden


julie farris

landscape designer

xs space
370 clinton street
brooklyn, new york 11231





Julie Farris lives and works in New York City. A native New Yorker, Julie received her BA from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York and her MLA from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Julie’s work focuses on the potential for small forgotten spaces throughout the city to become verdant, sustainable, inexpensive and aesthetic landscapes for urban residents. She has worked at several large firms in New York City, including M. Paul Friedberg and Partners as well as HLW International and Balmori Associates. In 2005, she founded a studio, XS Space LLC, and completed a temporary landscape/multi-media installation entitled Temporary Landscape: A Pasture for Urban Space in the Columbia Waterfront District in Brooklyn. In 2007 she worked in collaboration with Balmori Associates and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to complete an 8,000 square foot public space, Urban Meadow, which is now a permanent park located in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In 2009 she collaborated with an artist and The Public Art Fund to build a temporary landscape installation in Tribeca in Manhattan.  Her work has focused on international projects in Rwanda and Nepal as well as residential landscapes in Long Island and townhouses in New York City.

Her work has appeared in numerous publications and books, including Architectural Digest, Landscape Architecture Magazine, The Architect’s Newspaper, Ladies’ Home Journal , The New York Post and The New York Times.  She is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and is a co-founder of The Big Future Group, a not- for- profit organization that designs and implements sustainable projects in developing countries. She has also recently started a highly curated online sourcebook for outdoor design called Landstylist, and you can link to the site at  Julie resides in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.


A Clearing in the Streets

A temporary landscape designed by Julie Farris and Sarah Wayland-Smith entitled A Clearing in the Streets  was an installation commissioned by the Public Art Fund. A ten-sided plywood structure located in Collect Pond Park housed a meadow, fifteen feet in diameter, offset by a panoramic interior mural of a vast blue sky. Eight-inch gaps spaced throughout the structure permit controlled visual access to the enclosed landscape, exaggerating the disjunction between the natural ecology growing inside and the architecturally defined exterior. The structure and limited viewing opportunities magnifying the natural cyclical processes of the ecology that, over a four-month period, evolved from seeds and seedlings to a lush meadow of flowering native plants and grasses.

The built environment of New York City has almost completely effaced the opportunities for natural systems to exist. Collect Pond Park was once a 60-foot-deep freshwater pond; misused and polluted in the 19th century, the pond had to be drained. A Clearing in the Streets allows nature to reclaim a small part of the current public plaza, carving out a space to reinsert native plantings. The meadow will be in a constant state of transformation, parallel to the flux and endless change of the City itself. This literal ‘work in progress’ invites the public to return to the installation and witness its evolution.