A Newport, Rhode Island park redesigned by famed artist and architect Maya Lin opened Friday amidst concern by some the redesign was barbaric and a waste of public money, reports Rhode Island NPR.
The park includes an installation the Vietnam Memorial designer titled “The Meeting Room.” It consists of three stone foundations laid through the park which she said is intended as gathering spaces.
“From an artist’s point of view, in a funny way, you kind of want to welcome open comments,” said Lin. “And if you’re going to name a piece ‘The Meeting Room,’ you’d better invite lively debate in! And I always would figure Rhode Island is a pretty lively state, so, bring it on a little bit!”
And bring it on, her critics did.
“I think they should have left it alone,” said protestor Michael Yazel. “It was fine the way it was. It may have needed a few different plantings, a little more of that, and maybe a park bench or two.”
The park originally opened in the 1970s under the leadership of tobacco heiress Doris Duke and the Newport Restoration Foundation. But since then, many say it has gone downhill. Lin was brought in to reinvigorate the underutilized space while honoring Duke’s memory and Newport’s history.
You can hear more about the park’s controversial redesign on Rhode Island NPR.