SHIFTboston blog

Undulated Inundation by Anthony DiMari

Anthony DiMari, one of my most inspired contributors, a true visionary, two-time SHIFTboston competition finalist, and graduate from the Harvard GSD has just completed ‘Undulated Inundation’ a permanent land art installation in Hadley, Massachusetts. Anthony’s installation — recipient of the Riverscaping Competition Grant — truly exhibits his ability to capture and magnify the most subtle dynamic patterns in nature; ones we would not notice without seeing his work. I caught up with Anthony recently to learn more about his project and process.

Kim:  Would you please explain the background — how was this project initiated? And what were some of the key factors considered during the design process?

Anthony:  This project was awarded a grant through the Riverscaping Competition which aimed to raise an awareness of the Connecticut River through a series of art installations. Undulated inundation continues my research on dynamic patterns and interactive fields.

The river is a constantly fluctuating and ever changing surface. The color, the level, and the current change over time. Hadley has recorded several flood plane changes over the last 100 years. These flood planes marked four distinct heights above sea level, and are within a certain height from each other. Undulated Inundation references the flood planes as well as the fluctuation of the river. The reference of the ground plane along with the horizon sets up a contrast with the arrangement of the vertical steel poles. The undulating heights of the poles are further articulated with photo luminescent caps which provide a subtle glow during the night.

Kim: Would you explain more about the specific roles your partners played in this project?

Anthony: I think it’s important to note that collaboration involves trust. For this project, I’m thankful to several people for their trust, and I’m glad that my trust in others created a truly collaborative project. I would like to thank Thom Long and members of the Riverscaping committee for acknowledging my work and giving me this opportunity. I’m grateful to Susan Lisk, director of the Porter Phelps Huntington Museum who was patient with the construction process, positively inquisitive about my design intentions, and graciously supportive of this project.

I’d like to also acknowledge the spontaneous collaboration with Jarrett Man of Stone Soup Farm who donated time and an unselfish amount of effort on this project during the earth moving stages. The two contractors on this project have a unique working relationship and a high level of trust and respect for each other. It was a pleasure being able to work with them and to assist and learn in their process.

Working with vendors who were able to operate outside of their typical manufacturing routines was very educational and encouraging. Polymer Molding (Erie, PA) willingly worked with myself and Chroma Corporation (McHenry, IL) to supply the glowing caps for this project. I think it’s a very positive moment in a project when manufacturers are willing to try something different, guided by a knowledge of the process while maintaining an inquiry for innovation.

Kim: What projects, ideas, theories, books, music, architects — whatever it may be — have helped to inspire this project?

Anthony: The project was initially inspired by the river, the fluctuation in surface as well as our relationship to this constant change. My intention is not to literally represent nature however. This is a very important distinction that defines my method and general approach. Some past work has been incorrectly interpreted as such because I consider natural elements in many of my dynamic field projects. I’m more interested in nature’s systems and what they teach us.

I was also inspired by piers or markers within the water that allowed one to recognize and develop an awareness of the water’s surface as a referential plane. Other inspirations include pix-elated surfaces that change in depth, new methods of representing topography, as well as land art and what I refer to as interactive and dynamic fields. I’m particularly fond of the kinetic installations of Jussi Ängeslevä and the mirrored and light rooms of Yayoi Kasama.

Kim: What have you learned about your own process through this project and how does it fit into your individual working method?

Anthony: This project helped me further categorize my design process and work as it relates to 6 main topics: collaboration, fabrication, material, community, pattern, and land art.

Anthony O Di Mari (installation)
Charlie Tighe (installation)
Jarrett Mann (Stone Soup)
Susan Lisk (PPHM)
Stephen Schrieber (UMass Amherst)
Thom Long (Riverscaping)

Polymer Molding (fence post caps)
Chroma Corporation (photoluminescent pigment)

90 steel metal fence posts (heights from 3 feet to 7 feet)
90 photo luminescent post caps
9 cubic yards of white marble gravel
116 linear feet of wood
832 linear feet of landscape fabric

The piece is a temporary installation for the Porter Phelps Huntington Museum in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Square grid with a gradient of heights

Reference plane boundary filled with gravel.

Kim: Please discuss the lessons learned from this project, how might they relate to the larger built world?

Anthony: This project is a very small land art installation. The project succeeded in creating a place on the Museum’s land that was forgotten, so it does maintain a larger impact than its footprint.

In terms of its application at a larger scale though, I’d say that the lesson here returns to the idea of awareness. It’s initial intent was to assist in making the participants aware of the ever changing river, to interact with an object in the landscape, and enjoy, wonder, and question variation within an ordered grid of vertical poles.

The project is very dynamic in many ways, through the undulation of the pole heights as well as the changing views within and around the field. In terms of improving the larger built world, I would encourage this kind of user participation, and creating spaces that people want to explore, stop, look, and better understand their position in relationship to what is built around them.

Conversation with Installation Artist Lee Mingwei at the Gardner Museum, Tomorrow 1-3

Join me tomorrow afternoon at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for a conversation with Lee Mingwei, a fascinating and truly engaging participatory installation artist from Taiwan and NYC. I will be hosting a conversation with Mingwei in the Living Room from 1-3pm, as part of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Living Room series.  Please find more  information on Lee here:


Hope to see you!

A Web of Sparkle + Wonder in Evans Way Park for Opening Our Doors ‘14

Have you seen the twinkling sky in Evans Way Park? I passed near sunset and was mesmerized by what appeared to be a milky-way of tiny dancing stars– I’ve not seen anything quite like this!

It has been two years since my team and I installed the first Evans Way Park installation — ENfold — to commemorate the Fenway as Boston’s first designated cultural district. ENfold was one of the first to pave the way for others and being the first has its distinction but is not always fun. City of Boston approval of the piece required a grueling 6-month review process!

What we did not know at the time, was that our hard work would not only inspire — but make it much easier to build temporary installations in an annual tradition for an event, the Fenway Alliance’s Opening Our Doors (OOD), that continues to grow and flourish each year!

The Fenway OOD installation build has become a highly desirable opportunity in the architecture community and now many more young architects have had an opportunity to participate! Last year a design team at Goody Clancy was selected to produce a ground cover comprised of simple folded armatures titled ‘Interlace’. This year, due to an increased demand for participation, the Fenway Alliance tightened the selection process by hosting a juried internal competition to select work. The process — which brought forth some spectacular ideas, including the winning installation design ‘Sparkle + Chime’ by Jean Kim of Shepley Bullfinch. (See video below of Kim and his team at Shepley fabricating and installing the piece)

Kim’s concept is simple– he has affixed a lightweight web of stainless steel cable and fishing line between trees and from the network the team suspended hundreds of reflective disks—hardware parts from old Shepley computers to make the chimes. Kim’s inspiration for the piece came from a contraption his grandmother made in her garden to keep pesky birds from eating her produce.

Kim’s concept and the support he received from his colleagues at Shepley — is truly outstanding. When standing beneath this beautiful little universe you understand the power of successful teamwork.

I commend Kelly Brilliant Director of the Fenway Alliance and Jean Kim and his design team at Shepley Bulfinch for making this happen!

The Fenway Alliance includes all these amazing installations in its Public By Design initiative. Kelly applauds ENfold Evans Way 2011 which garnered significant mainstream and architect-specific media recognition and a competitive honor from the BSA. She says she marvels at what each dedicated creative has brought to transform an underutilized yet beautiful park into a beautiful and vibrant place of connection, conversation, smiles, awards, and every so often, sparkles and awe.

Lets face it, there is a new exciting tradition happening in Boston, one we have all been waiting for! Spread the word — and don’t miss the opportunity to get in on it next year!

Experience Sparkle + Chime  with a wash of metallic swells, crashes and rhythms of  the ‘Jungle of Sound’ cymbal performance from 2-3 pm tomorrow, Columbus Day.

Video: See the team at Shepley Bullfinch assembling Sparkle + Chime.


Enfold  2011:

Want to get involved next year? Stay tuned:

Reimagining the Maple Sugar House with the Studio North 2014 Summer Workshop

Studio North is currently seeking applicants for the workshop of June 23rd – June 28th, 2014. The workshop this year will focus on the design and construction of a new maple sugar house. The studio is open to interested students of all abilities. Previous construction experience is not required.

Studio North is a six day intensive building workshop. The workshop will offer students the opportunity to engage with the rural landscape and to imagine, develop and construct inventive design solutions. An architectural education is best experienced through engagement in all aspects of the building process. This workshop will be a fully immersive design experience.

The workshop will take place on a 117 acre farm in Norwich, Vermont. The workshop will investigate a particular interest and respond with the design and construction of a complete prototype structure. The workshop will be limited to ten students and led by architect Keith Moskow FAIA and Robert Linn AIA of the Boston based firm, Moskow Linn Architects.

For more information and to apply visit:

Or contact us at:  617.292.2000 ext. 28  or email