ML&F, Museum & Library Furniture LLC
Detail of the Gallery Bench, Slat

Ideas and Updates


Historic Sites and Seating for Public Spaces

As an architect who works with historically significant buildings and sites, I always adhere to one simple rule: Once it's gone, it's gone.

Out of respect for an historic landscape, building or buildings, or site, I reject installations of "new old benches," and designs that supposedly maintain stylistic consistency. A fake old bench, or even a good reproduction of an historic bench, interferes with the experience of a genuine historic setting because it is not genuine. Authenticity is the most respectful tribute to historic areas.

The purpose of any bench in any public space is to provide barrier-free comfort and rest. But it must be unobtrusive and style-neutral, neither decorative nor calling attention to itself. And it must be built to last and responsible to the environment.

Recently a client commented that my new design for a bench "will be perfect for our renovation of a mid-century building!" The comment may have been made in the belief that my design would be stylistically consistent with mid-century modern. Actually, I intended my design to be free from style; it provides unobtrusive, comfortable seating for sites of any historic period and would be at home in Williamsburg, Mesa Verde or at The Parthenon.

Tom Shiner FAIA