ICON, Spring 2004
Spring is universally regarded as a season of renewal—a time for sowing seeds of change. This issue we focus on a suite of sites witnessing dramatic rebirth, two of which are, appropriately enough, gardens, a third, an ancient temple-complex in Beijing dedicated to the worship of Xiannong, the Father of Agriculture of Chinese lore. At Queluz, a palatial rococo wonder in Portugal, a collection of extraordinary lead sculptures cast by a British foundry in the late-eighteenth century is being restored along with their exquisite formal gardens. In Cairo, an area of the city once written off as a wasteland has been transformed into an wondrous urban oasis—on par with New York's Central Park and London's Hyde Park—thanks to the Herculean efforts of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Of equal, and perhaps greater, importance has been the impact of the revitalization project on the decaying buildings of the city's adjacent historic district and the economic uptake in an area that for decades, if not centuries, has ranked among the region's poorest. And at Xiannongtang, fifteenthcentury Chinese imperial buildings, obscured and disfigured over the years by modern construction, are being returned one by one t o their dynastic splendor.
To complement these stories, we journey to Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, North America's oldest continually inhabited settlement. There, atop a 100-meter-high mesa, the people of Acoma have embarked on the restoration of the early seventeenth-century mission church of San Esteban del Rey, one of the few such sanctuaries to have survived the Pueblo Revolt of 1860, during which most of the colonial churches of the American Southwest were systematically destroyed. It is a massive undertaking requiring millions of dollars and years to complete, yet, Acoma's Native American community is determined to succeed. We plan to be there with them all along the way.