Anatomy of a Princeton Park

A temporary space in an Ivy League place pays homage to the giants of science.

A temporary space in an Ivy League place pays homage to the giants of science.

A vacant lot in Princeton is being transformed into a temporary public sculpture garden featuring bamboo groves that rise in two spheres (representing the male and female brain) and fanciful sculptures inspired by the work of Princeton’s top scientists.

Quark Park brings together scientists, sculptors, and landscapers to create a space that brings science to life. Modeled after the quark, a subatomic particle, the park is surrounded by tall stalks of corn, with a concrete piazza at the center encircled by sculptures, trees, and flowers. One abstract work, created by artist Nancy Cohen in collaboration with Princeton University president (and molecular biologist) Shirley Tilghman and Jim Stern, a Princeton professor of electrical engineering, is based on the sense of smell. It’s composed of a curved wall of multi-colored translucent disks that look like giant buttons and represent the cells in the nose that help send information to the brain. The park is especially impressive at night, when lit.

Unveiled last month on Paul Robeson Place, the park’s artworks will be dismantled in November to make room for the site’s next, more permanent installation: a four-story, 100-unit apartment building.

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