Dia Beacon Launches a Sprawling Landscape Project

The initiative will open eight acres of its expansive campus to the public.

A rendering provided by Dia Beacon shows the planned meadowlands behind the foundation's campus in upstate New York.

The Dia Art Foundation has announced a major landscaping project focused primarily on restoring three acres of lawn at its location in Beacon back to its native meadowlands and bolstering defenses from rising floodwaters from the Hudson River, caused by climate change. The new project will publicly open a total of eight acres of land.

Studio Zewde, the landscape architecture and urban design firm led by Sara Zewde, has been tapped to lead the transformation of the swathe of land found behind the Dia Beacon building. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and the transformed landscape is expected to open to the public in 2025.

“As extreme weather becomes a fact of life globally, Dia Beacon’s location on the banks of the Hudson River makes bolstering resistance to rising water ever more important,” the foundation said. More than 90 native meadow species and nearly 400 new trees and shrubs will be planted at the site.

With the project, a total of 11 acres of outdoor space at the 32-acre campus will be opened to the public as a free amenity for visitors to the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York, counting three acres in front of the institution previously designed by Robert Irwin. Among new features, the site is expected to include a small lawn, which Dia Beacon said opens up the possibilities for outdoor public programming and engagement.

“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,” Sara Zewde said in a statement.

She said the design team was inspired by the region’s history and the movement of American Indians in the area. The design team has also considered Robert Irwin’s landscape design in the front of the building, completed in 2003. The late artist was instrumental, along with architects OpenOffice, in transforming a former Nabisco Box Factory building into an exhibition-ready space; he also seeded a grove of fruit trees along its parking lot and designed the museum’s west garden.

“The landscape surrounding Dia Beacon has always been essential to the experience of the museum,” Dia director Jessica Morgan said in a statement “In renovating the abandoned factory building, the interior of the galleries, the forecourt, the adjacent gardens, and even the parking lot were all designed by the renowned late artist Robert Irwin. This new project extends this immersive approach to site.”

Dia Beacon’s expansive campus has long made it ideal for the display of large-scale artworks and installations. Andy Warhol’s “Shadows” series (1978–79), encompassing 102 silkscreen canvases originally commissioned by the foundation, as well as Meg Webster’s signature earthworks, including Concave Earth (1986–90) and Mother Mound (1990), are currently on long-term view at the museum.

Rendering of
Dia Beacon’s south
landscape.
Courtesy Studio Zewde, 2024

Rendering of
Dia Beacon’s south
landscape.
Courtesy Studio Zewde, 2024

Rendering of
Dia Beacon’s south
landscape.
Courtesy Studio Zewde, 2024

Rendering of
Dia Beacon’s south
landscape.
Courtesy Studio Zewde, 2024

Rendering of
Dia Beacon’s south
landscape.
Courtesy Studio Zewde, 2024


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