Richard Fleischner | Upper Courtyard

Richard Fleischner

Upper Courtyard, 1985

Pavers, landscape, furniture and sculpture


Commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art Funds

Richard Fleischner’s early environmental sculptures revealed and articulated aspects of a given site, and used the placement of objects to mark spaces and choreograph human activity within them. He was also interested in the intersection of art and design, particularly art and landscape design.

Fleischner was one of three artists who worked with building architect I.M. Pei to develop public art in conjunction with the design of the new Wiesner building. An initial idea for a sculpture garden near the building gradually expanded as the artist became increasingly engaged with the architects and the occupants of adjacent buildings. The resulting landscape courtyard encompasses the space embraced by Buildings E15, E17/18, E25, and E23, that is bound by Ames and Amherst Streets.

The artist’s work involved resolving complex pedestrian traffic patterns and changes in grade among the buildings, and creating places for art and social and leisure activities. Paving patterns, steps, plantings, furniture, and sculptures are employed to differentiate spaces and bring them into focus, to direct traffic, and to denote spaces for leisure and socializing. Fleischner’s group of geometric granite forms based on cubes function as sculpture, furniture, and barricades to protect the building from snowplows. Finally, Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure was sited by Fleischner as a focal point on the grassy lawn among the beeches.

Building Number: E15

Accession Number: PFA.1985.003