Children’s Museum Has Bulk of Funds to Build Park
The Children’s Museum is $2.2 million away from raising the funds it needs to transform the sunken concrete square outside its doors into the Allegheny Public Square Park and make upgrades inside the museum.
Officials Thursday announced they had raised $6.3 million of the $8.5 million needed and that the remainder would be solicited as public donations.
The bulk of the money to date has come from foundations. A $250,000 challenge grant from the Buhl Foundation will match $1 for every $2 contributed by the public.
The existing square was created in the 1960s as part of the Allegheny Center Mall. A sunken area housed a fountain encircled by amphitheater-like seating. The area now is a walk-through zone, sometimes used by skateboarders but otherwise ghostly.
The museum chose San Francisco landscape architect Andrea Cochran in a design competition in 2007, when it embarked on its capital campaign. Ms. Cochran’s design for the new park calls for native plants, a meadow, 75 additional trees, solar lighting, a rain garden and a V-shaped walkway with benches and movable seats and tables.
The park’s art feature will be a stainless steel sculpture by Ned Kahn. Called “Cloud Arbor,” the piece will stand as rows of stainless steel tubes with nozzles to create “a sphere of mist,” said museum executive director Jane Werner. “It is a companion to our wind sculpture,” called “Articulated Cloud,” which Mr. Kahn also designed as 43 panels on the building that create the illusion that the building is moving with the wind.
A north-to-south row of cypress trees along Children’s Way will be kept while about 10 others will be replaced, said Ms. Cochran, adding that arborists had determined them to be unhealthy.
Plants have been chosen for their contributions to green design, she said. “We are teaching by example, with plants that don’t need pesticides or fertilizers.”
“Everything we all say we care about — the environment, green space and kids — all comes together here,” said state Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, a museum board member.
The project’s budget will also cover alterations of the museum’s nursery, store and cafe.
“We are hoping to break ground sometime this year,” said Ms. Werner. The project may be completed next year.