World Monuments Fund Watch Day
New Hope, PA • 2014
In the 1960s, because of his close friendship with the artist Ben Shahn and ongoing interest in the craft and monastic traditions of the world, George Nakashima designed and built the “Arts Building” with the intent that Ben would be able to display his art. He opened a beautiful show of Ben Shahn’s prints, some in Nakashima frames, in 1967. Ben noticed that there was a perfect wall for a mosaic, designed one of his few abstract compositions for that wall. When Ben passed away in 1969, George and his son, Kevin, took this design to Ben’s mosaicist, Gabriel Loire, in Chartres, France, and had him fabricate the mosaic, ship it in 8 panels, and installed it in 1972 in memory of Ben. The interior wall of the building contains Japanese volcanic rock from the 1964 World’s Fair, a “keyhole” sculpture gifted by Masayuki Nagare, a cantilevered staircase, Nakashima’s framed architectural drawings from the University of Washington and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1930, and two Harry Bertoia sculptures gifted by Harry in exchange for furniture.
There are two smaller warped plywood shell Hyperbolic Paraboloid roofs on the Nakashima property built in 1956, and a reinforced concrete church of the same shape in Kyoto, Japan, but these are some of the rare examples of this kind of construction in the world.