4. March 2021
Photo: Elyn Zimmerman Studio/Wikimedia Commons
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) has announced that MARABAR, Elyn Zimmerman's site-specific installation in Washington, DC, has been saved from demolition and will be moved to a new location.
The artwork — a dozen granite boulders astride a 60-foot-long water feature — was installed in 1984 on the campus of the National Geographic Society (NGS). It is considered Zimmerman’s first large-scale artwork, the first of many public projects and sculpture commissions she has carried out since. We learned about MARABAR last May, after TCLF had convinced DC's preservation review board to revisit a 2019 decision that would have led to its demolition as part of NGS's renovation of its campus per plans by Hickok Cole.
Today's news sounds like a partial victory: MARABAR is saved, but it is going to be moved elsewhere, depleting its site-specificity. According to TCLF, the NPS design team asserted that the installation would have to be removed even if it were to remain, in order to facilitate work on the campus's plaza. So the February 4th plans from NPS proposed moving the artwork to Canal Park, about five miles southeast of its current location, not far from Nationals Park and the 11th Street Bridge currently being transformed by OMA and OLIN. But TCLF and the artist, among others, opposed the move, leading to today's resolution, in which MARABAR will be relocated, at the expense of NPS, to a new location still to be determined.