The presentation by Dean of the School of Architecture Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65 explaining the proposed redesign and landscaping of the Grove Street Cemetery wall was a striking example of the insensitivity of most contemporary architects to the concerns of the communities on which they inflict their schemes.
Stern focused narrowly on the visual impact of breaching the wall, ignoring entirely the impact of his plan on the acoustic dimension of the Cemetery. One of the most noticeable aspects of this cemetery is its quietness; it is a contemplative space in the middle of a busy city. With the wall breached, the sounds of Prospect Street would flood the cemetery, destroying its unique aural environment.
Contrary to Stern’s assertions, the Cemetery is not just a structure enclosing the bodies and monuments of the deceased. Instead, it was designed to evoke an experience of awe and reverence.
Peter Dobkin Hall
The writer is a proprietor of the Grove Street Cemetery.