Main Street Views

ARCHIVES

News, notes and comment, and occasional observations on the work of nature and the nature of work.

Tevere MacFadyen
October, 2017

I traveled to Houston in late September, a few weeks after Hurricane Harvey had inundated the city, to work with environmental educators at our long-standing client, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, on a series of new interpretive installations to be distributed along the trails...

Tevere MacFadyen
July, 2017

By my lights, the Musee du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, on the left bank of the Seine not far from the Eiffel Tower, is a nearly perfect museum. More commonly referred to simply as “the quai Branly,” it is a sprawling celebration of ethnographic objects and the people and cultures who made them...

Tevere MacFadyen
May, 2017

I spent a week in April in Paris with my family, marveling anew at how profound the cultural differences are between even our two highly globalized and westernized societies. There’s the food, of course, and not just fine dining, which we didn’t indulge in; or the rotating roster of neighborhood...

Tevere MacFadyen
March, 2017

I had cataract surgery a month or so ago. After removing the cataracts in my left eye the ophthalmologist inserted a lens – an intraocular implant – to correct my vision. I have been profoundly nearsighted since I was about five years old; my mother used to say that she knew we had a problem...

Tevere MacFadyen
January, 2017

Last weekend, with my wife Lisa and our 13 year old son Sam, I joined the Boston Women’s March for America. Saturday morning dawned cold, wet and grey. We bundled up, packed water bottles and power bars, and carried our homemade sign to the subway near our home. The station was crowded and the...

Tevere MacFadyen
January, 2017

We began a new project in December with our friends from the landscape architecture firm Studio Outside, master planning for the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens. The existing gardens are located on the University’s South Campus, which houses the College of Agriculture & Natural...

Tevere MacFadyen
November, 2016

The morning after the election I woke up in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon. I hadn’t slept much the night before, staying up late watching the returns come in, trying to quell the swelling nausea I felt as it became increasingly clear what the outcome would eventually be, simultaneously...

Tevere MacFadyen
October, 2016

I have a rat in my henhouse. More accurately, I guess I ought to say that I have rats in my henhouse, since the singular form of that word should probably not exist. There is no such thing as "a rat." There are only, always and inevitably, "rats."

I've been struggling to keep our rat...

Tevere MacFadyen
September, 2016

My twelve year old son Sam and I spent the first week of August at the WoodenBoat School, out near the end of the Blue Hill peninsula on the coast of Maine. It was family boatbuilding week and we were there, with three other families, to build an Echo Bay Dory Skiff, a 12' long lug-rigged...

Tevere MacFadyen
July, 2016

It is with regret and some reluctance that I am conceding defeat and putting my trusty old commuter bike out to pasture. Having lost access to both lower chain rings and run out of ideas for fixing the problem myself, I took it into our local shop, where a heavily inked mechanic who hadn’t been...

Tevere MacFadyen
June, 2016

Early one morning in late May I stood at the rear of a spotless large animal examination room in the veterinary medicine center at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, watching a young male Florida panther undergo his final check-up before being released to the wild. The big cat lay supine on a stainless...

Tevere MacFadyen
April, 2016

We hear the birds long before we can see them, a chorus of chirrups and gabbles and honks and whistles emanating from the velvety pre-dawn darkness as we gingerly navigate a muddy, rutted path out to the viewing blinds. It sounds like a wind ensemble tuning up, like spring peepers on steroids....

Tevere MacFadyen
February, 2016

In this already interminable election year, as we search for any sort of precedent that might provide even a glimmer of hope, I’ve been thinking about the challenge of interpreting history. If past is truly prologue, as is so often said, how can we make that prologue accessible and meaningful...

Tevere MacFadyen
January, 2016

Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen, which just completed its run at the Peabody Essex Museum, raises provocative questions about science, art, and nature. The exhibition is utterly delightful, but a bit disquieting. The subjects are Jansen’s extraordinarily complex, eerily beautiful...

Tevere MacFadyen
December, 2015

The great hall of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a soaring vaulted space, vast and imposing and seemingly symmetrical. The massive central dome and the smaller domes surrounding it are richly decorated with tiles and frescoes, and at the corners hang enormous round wooden panels imprinted in...

Tevere MacFadyen
November, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, while attending the New England Museums Association conference in Portland, Maine, I had a lovely meal at Isa, a little bistro in the city’s Bayside neighborhood. The food was delicious, the space well lighted and designed, the service attentive but informal, the...

Tevere MacFadyen
October, 2015

Every year in early fall a big truck comes lumbering down our narrow dirt road, scraping against encroaching branches on both sides, and disgorges two or three cords of fresh-cut firewood in a great heap at the edge of my lawn. The load is usually mostly oak, with occasional veins of maple,...

Tevere MacFadyen
August, 2015

As a little boy growing up in New York in the early 1960s I was fascinated by the little windows cut into the rough plywood walls of construction barricades. The cranes were nesting all over the city in those days, and it seemed like every other corner sported a cavernous excavation or a...

Tevere MacFadyen
July, 2015

Making interactive exhibits and experiential environments can be breathtakingly expensive, with both design and fabrication costs driven ever higher by the one-off nature of almost everything we do. (As Lyn Wood, principal of the wonderful design/build studio Hands On! Inc. once put it, “...

Tevere MacFadyen
June, 2015

Why are airports so big? What’s the point of all those cavernous terminals with 60’ ceilings? It’s certainly not practical or efficient, so it must be for effect: to remind us that airlines are great and powerful, like the buildings they build.

It’s important to remember that the places...

Tevere MacFadyen
May, 2015

Artists of Earth and Sky, the temporary Plains Indians exhibition currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, is exquisite and deeply complicated.

Created in collaboration with the Musée du quai Branly in Paris and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the show...

Tevere MacFadyen
April, 2015

I’ve been enjoying Cal Petternell’s new cookbook, Twelve Recipes. He wrote it for his son when he went off to college, because even though the boy had grown up hanging around the kitchens at the great restaurant Chez Panisse, where Peternell is the chef, he’d never really learned to cook. He...

Tevere MacFadyen
March, 2015

We took the boys to Rincon, at the western tip of Puerto Rico, for a week or so of winter surfing. I’d never been there before and hadn’t done much to prepare, and as we groped through the first few days, like walking down an unfamiliar path in the dark, I was reminded again of the value of not...

Tevere MacFadyen
February, 2015

From where I sit, the restored wetlands beside our office are almost completely frozen over. A gaggle of resident Canada geese, formerly migratory, jostle each other out of the way to dabble in a tiny patch of open water, then clamber out and waddle ungainly across the ice. It’s been a long...

Tevere MacFadyen
January, 2015

In the mid-1970’s, when my brother attended the Rhode Island School of Design, he and his classmates used to refer to RISD ironically as “the Harvard of the art schools,” an unfortunate tagline apparently coined by the college marketing department. I thought of that the other day when my son Sam...