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Urban Topographies: Cuts & Patches

posted Jul 24, 2010, 4:13 AM by Patricia Martin   [ updated Jul 24, 2010, 4:27 AM ]

Linda Pollak's "Cuts & Patches" has been featured on Urban Omnibus. In her work, Linda Pollak 
investigates mysterious carvings in the sidewalks of Lower Manhattan and finds that they have much to teach us about the ways natural forces determine urban form. 

"As a designer, the more you can make sense of the diversity of the physical environment, the more chance you have to enable others to make new sense of it." LP

Linda Pollak is an architect, landscape designer and educator. Along with partner Sandro Marpillero, she is a principal of Marpillero Pollak Architects, whose work Omnibus readers will remember from 
this discussion about Queens Plaza and this podcast about the Whitestone Branch of the Queens Public Library. She is also an indefatigable observer and documenter of the urban environment at a wide variety of scales. Her investigations into mysterious carvings in the granite sidewalks of Lower Manhattan have much to teach us about the ways natural forces determine urban form. They also have yielded photographic imagery that is visually arresting on its own. I happened to glance at one of these images in Linda’s office last winter, and immediately afterward I started seeing the “cuts and patches” they depict everywhere I went. Turns out many of them are coal chute covers, relics of a different era of energy infrastructure in formerly industrial neighborhoods like SoHo or TriBeCa. But perhaps more fascinating than their original use is the way they testify to the diversity of granular elements that make up the urban environment. While you look around and marvel at the city, don’t forget, every now and again, to look down. -C.S.

Read the interview: