The Boston Fed’s Scrap Metal Giraffe

Having written about so many animal statues in Boston, I looked twice when I saw the head and neck of a giraffe rising in garden at Federal Reserve Plaza on Atlantic Avenue. From researching  previous posts on Boston’s Bronze Menagerie, I knew that the city has its own Jungle Book of animal statues, with several rhinoceroses, an elephant, many lions, and a leopard but I did not expect to find a giraffe near the staid Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

I detoured from my planned route and walked into the small garden in front and to the left of Federal Reserve Plaza’s main entrance. There I got a close look at the 10-foot-tall giraffe sculpted from scrap metal by Madeleine Lord with the assistance of Robert Hesse. It was installed in 2013. I detoured from my planned route and walked into the small garden in front and to the left of Federal Reserve Plaza’s main entrance. There I got a close look at the 10-foot-tall giraffe, installed in 2013, that is sculpted from scrap metal by Madeleine Lord with the assistance of Robert Hesse.

Beyond him stalks a life-size ostrich against the Boston Fed’s west wall, also sculpted by Ms. Lord and installed the following year. I like the ostrich a lot and I think he deserves a better location in the garden. A third sculpture, Mr. Bojangles, dances nearby but he is a human being and doesn’t fit in with my collection of animal statues.

Federal Reserve Plaza

The 4.3 acres of green space around and in front of the bank building, including Federal Reserve Plaza, were designed by Halvorson Design under the direction of Principal Architect Robert Adams. They serve as a combination of civic open space, public amenity and “sophisticated protective barrier” around the building’s perimeter. The plaza includes bold paving patterns, custom furnishings with many places for employees and passers-by to sit, and colorful plantings. It won the 2007 Merit Award for Design from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

There may be other animal statues tucked into the green spaces around Federal Reserve Plaza. I’m going to do a careful walkaround one of these days and look for more beasts lurking in the shrubbery.

Sculptor Madeleine Lord

The sculptor, Madeleine Lord, has a full-time job at the Federal Reserve Bank as a marketing database specialist. As an artist, she works in scrap metal and says this about how she creates her sculptures:

“My process is not unlike assembling a 3-D crazy quilt, where each scrap is interesting in its own right, but is redefined by inclusion to become something else entirely.  My hope is to create a multi-dimensional drawing where the pockets of air are as interesting as the pieces of metal that create them. The whole drawing is an assemblage of many smaller ones.”

Beyond him stalks a life-size ostrich against the Boston Fed’s west wall, also sculpted by Ms. Lord and installed the following year. Ms. Lord gets her raw material from a scrap metal yard in in Readville, MA. On weekdays she prepares, “searching and sifting and refining,” arranging and re-arranging the pieces of metal and the “pockets of air” between them. On weekends she assembles the pieces before welding and re-welding them together until the sculpture is finished.

I imagine that must be like assembling a jigsaw puzzle from an infinite number of pieces, only some of which go together, and without a picture on the box.

Ms. Lord has art in her genes. Her paternal grandmother was Katharine Lord, who founded an art school in Evanston IL. She creates large public works and small steel sculptures for both homes and gardens, combining found scrap metal into flowers, animals and figures.

Directions and Information

Directions and information about parking can be found on Federal Reserve Plaza’s website.

Boston’s Bronze Menagerie

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