Paula Hayes: Wexner Center Roof Garden

Paula Hayes roof garden at the Wexner Center for the Arts

Created by landscape designer and artist Paula Hayes, the Wexner Center Roof Garden was installed to coincide with the September 15 opening of the center’s fall 2011 exhibitions, one of which showcased new and existing work by Hayes.

The garden occupies a grassy berm that sits atop the center’s Film/Video Theater, just south of the main entrance to the building and also near Maya Lin’s Groundswell (a permanent site-specific installation commissioned as part of that artist’s residency in 1992–93). Hayes’s garden features hardy sedum plants, grasses, and perennials that thrive throughout all four seasons and have evolved in appearance and character over the years. It also includes several of Hayes’s signature sculptural planters made of silicone. Footpaths allow visitors to experience the garden up close and to peer over the concrete wall onto Lin’s Groundswell.

Hayes’s art is infused with the act of caring, elevating that ethic to the level of artistic concept. Inherent in her practice is an agreement between the artist and the owners of her works to nurture each creation responsibly. The Wexner Center and the university took on that responsibility for the project, with volunteers and staff from Ohio State’s Chadwick Arboretum and Facilities Operations and Development department assisting with the garden’s installation. The effortless beauty of Hayes’s design belies the complexity involved in the conception and execution of the garden, whose construction is quite literally layered with the expertise of engineers, architects, gardeners, and the artist. Hayes’s model of collectively managed care for the natural world remains relevant to ongoing questions of environmental sustainability.

Wexner Center Roof Garden was made possible by the generosity of The Trueman Family with significant additional support from Ohio State's office of Facilities Operations and Development.

More about the artist

Born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1958, and raised in upstate New York, Paula Hayes has been commissioned to design and execute gardens for multiple public and private spaces, including Madison Square Park (2015), Salon 94 Bowery (2015), and Hauser & Wirth Gallery (2009) in New York; W Hotel Landscape, Miami (2008); and Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany (2000). Her work was featured in solo exhibitions at the Aspen Art Museum (2018) in Colorado; The Museum of Modern Art (2010), Marianne Boesky Gallery (2010), and Salon 94 (2004) in New York; and Rhona Hoffman Gallery (2014 and 2007) in Chicago. She received her BS from Skidmore College (1987) and MFA from Parsons School of Design (1989) and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Visit the artist’s web site