In the 1970s, Mary Miss, who was educated as a sculptor, chose to turn from the gallery and museum scene and create art in the public realm. Her early works include temporary site installations and percent-for-art projects. In the 1980s, she was among those who began to take on abandoned industrial infrastructures, transforming them into viable public places. Other artists working in such terrain include Rich Haag, who transformed a former Seattle gas plant into a playground known as Gas Works Park; Adriaan Geuze, who modified a parking lot in Rotterdam into the public Theater Square (Schouwburgplein); and Peter Latz who changed the abandoned infrastructure of a former German steel plant into a wandering garden now known as the Duisburg-Nord Landscape Park.
Miss’s current team endeavors include the forthcoming Railyard Park Project in Santa Fe, New Mexico, being undertaken with Ken Smith, and the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, where she is collaborating with Ken Smith and a team of architects and designers. In Irvine, plans are to use the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station as the site of an immense regional park spanning 1,749 acres. Larger than Central Park in New York City, the Great Park promises to transform the former airbase, which many locals deemed an eyesore, into a destination location scheduled to open in 2009.