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  1. Look Up! You Never Know What You Might be Missing!

    By Tracy Myers
    Co-Director, Education
    Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

    If you have ever taken one of the many walking tours PHLF offers from April through October every year, you know that one of our rallying cries is “Look Up!” Tour leaders encourage participants to lift their eyes from what is immediately within sight to the rich and often surprising detail to be found in Pittsburgh’s historic architecture. We even have T-shirts with the exhortation to “Look Up” on the back, as a reminder to tour participants—and to ourselves, perhaps—that this is the best way to “get” our city’s built environment.

    Although I relocated to Pittsburgh more than 20 years ago specifically for its marvelous buildings and topography, it is only since becoming co-director of education at PHLF last August that I have come to appreciate the true wealth of the city’s architecture. And that is because, in the course of becoming familiar with our tours, I really started to… look up. In doing so Downtown, I have been delighted to discover the abundance of architectural detail. Look up, and you’re liable to see a winged grotesque, or an Atlas-like figure holding up the cornice that caps a building, or a lace-like aluminum church steeple, or the ghost of a building that has been torn down. You might see luscious blue terra cotta decoration on a building façade protected by a PHLF easement, or a procession of lion heads holding the line against a corporate cathedral. You could even espy a sculpture of an engineer tucked against a beam of a bridge, hiding in plain sight.

    I also have been reminded of the amazing variety of architectural vistas that Downtown’s unusual geography and urban plan offer up. I am constantly surprised that the same group of buildings can give different impressions depending on the street from which they’re viewed. Turn a corner, and you might think, “Wait—is that the same building that I saw just a minute ago?”—a satisfying kind of disorientation that you can experience only by looking up. Expand your field of vision even further, and you cannot help but be taken by the stunning natural backdrop of Mount Washington, the rivers, and the hills.

    Downtown Pittsburgh’s architecture is a brilliant microcosm of dominant trends throughout America over the last 200 years. What makes our architectural heritage unique is the fullness and vibrancy of its expression. The photographs in the gallery below, most of which were taken by Sarah Greenwald, my fellow co-director of education, offer just a glimpse of the architectural treasures you might encounter on one of our tours. The education department staff and our corps of 50 docents are busily working on the schedule of tours for 2020. We look forward to sharing Pittsburgh’s architecture with learners of all ages. In the meantime, PHLF members will enjoy reading an article by Charles Rosenblum about touring with PHLF that will be published in our annual 24-page PHLF News, due out by February 2020.

     

  2. Architecture Apprentices Present Final Designs for Homestead Vacant Lot

    High school students from all over Allegheny County finished their fifth and final session on December 13, 2019, in PHLF’s Architecture Apprenticeship program sponsored by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. After learning about Pittsburgh’s industrial legacy through a guided tour of Rivers of Steel’s Pump House, Carrie Furnaces, and Bost Building, sixteen students presented their final designs for a vacant lot in Homestead. A panel of professionals––Nicole Kubas (CitySTUDIO), Jenna Kappelt (ALN Manager), Patrick Russell (R3A Architects), Paul Tellers (architect), Daniel Valentine (local developer), Dave Yargeau (Mon Valley Initiative), and David Lewis (distinguished urban designer and one of PHLF’s founding trustees)––listened to the student’s innovative ideas and provided their own constructive comments.

    The basis of the students’ hands-on, inquiry-based learning was a vacant lot on Homestead’s 8th Avenue. Through a site analysis, visits with professionals in architecture and related fields, as well as tours of historic buildings and sustainable initiatives on CMU’s campus and in downtown Pittsburgh, students were introduced to careers in architecture, urban planning, and historic preservation.

    This course gave students the opportunity to experience first-hand—and often for the first time—the joys and challenges of pursuing these careers. Speaking of his design process, one student remarked to judges, “I know what it looks like in my head. It’s harder to get on paper.” David Lewis, one of the panelists, encouraged students by explaining that “exploring an idea is what you are doing in architecture.” The following designs (see photo gallery) were among the proposals for the vacant lot:

    • a public donation library and snack shop;
    • a restaurant and upper-level apartments (“Sanctuary”);
    • an athletic store and live music café (“Halftime”),
    • a Pittsburgh-themed community hangout space (“Steel City Parkside”);
    • affordable housing units with a lower-level cabaret space;
    • an ice cream shop with upper-level apartments;
    • a combination café, daycare, and urban garden;
    • a community center with lounges, classrooms, and event spaces;
    • a vertical farm; and,
    • a community arcade and recreational center.

    “So many of these projects open the doors to the community. All of them are quite wonderful – that is what we want in our communities,” observed David Lewis. Many of the proposals included thoughtful incorporations of mixed-use concepts, sustainable design and community-service-oriented concepts. When asked to describe their Architecture Apprenticeship experience, students wrote:

    • This apprenticeship really helped me to become more confident in my designs and being able to express them better as well.
    • I used this apprenticeship to help me determine if architecture would be a good career path for me.
    • It made me realize just how much thought and planning goes into designing a space for a community.
    • This program helped me be aware of architecture all around me. I learned how to be a better city planner and realized how to imagine a practical building.
    • It helped me appreciate the design and functions of buildings, and it helped me understand the duties of an architect.

    Students were also asked to describe their experiences in five words or phrases. Responses included:

    • Fulfilling; fun; knowledgeable; unique; beneficial.
    • Educational; helpful; created opportunities; fun; eye-opening.
    • Insightful; true-world experience; hands-on; historical; informational yet enjoyable.
    • Eye-opening; historic; learning how to repurpose new to old and old to new; preserve—an art form, I believe, keeping old things relevant; character—most important, every building has this.
    • Interesting; I liked the history; I liked the different styles of buildings; I liked hearing about peoples’ stories of how they got to where they are; helpful.
    • Fun; challenging; cool; I was able to see lots of our city.

    After all the students presented, David Lewis impressed upon them that “architecture stands on the threshold of the past and future. Architecture is what we inherit and where we are going. Westand always on that threshold.”

    To the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, whose funding supports this program, and to all of the professionals who spent time with these high school students, we thank you!

  3. Book Celebration: Alan I W Frank House: The Modernist Masterwork by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer

    “A Conversation about the Frank House: Raymund Ryan, Curator of Architecture, Carnegie Museum of Art, with Alan Frank”

    Saturday, December 7, 2019
    1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
    Carnegie Museum of Art
    4400 Forbes Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15213

    Admission to the event is free

    PHLF is pleased to join Carnegie Museum of Art in presenting a conversation and book signing to celebrate the release of Alan I W Frank House: The Modernist Masterwork by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. The Frank House was constructed in 1939-40 on East Woodland Road in Shadyside and is the largest residence designed by Gropius and Breuer, two of the most influential architect/designers in America in the 20th century. The book’s release coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, a German art school founded by Walter Gropius in 1919. We congratulate Mr. Frank on its release.

    Our members and friends are invited to attend the special event and book signing on Saturday, December 7, at 1:30 p.m. in the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater. Reservations are not needed. Following his conversation with Mr. Ryan, Mr. Frank will autograph copies of the book ($65.00). Published by Rizzoli, the 256-page book includes critical essays by Kenneth Frampton, Barry Bergdoll, and Charles A. Birnbaum––prominent architecture and landscape historians––and is lavishly illustrated with new photographs by Richard Barnes and Richard Pare.

    Recognized as one of Pittsburgh’s most important works of mid-20th-century architecture, the Frank House is also featured in Albert M. Tannler’s Pittsburgh Architecture in the Twentieth Century: Notable Modern Buildings and Their Architects, published by PHLF in 2013.

    In 2016, PHLF awarded a $10,000 grant from its Walter C. Kidney Library and Publications Fund to the Alan I W Frank House Foundation to help fund the book, Alan I W Frank House: The Modernist Masterwork by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer.

  4. Visiting Kelly Art Glass in Millvale

    By Laurie Cohen, PHLF member

    Church of the Redeemer members from left: Reverend Michael Foley; Karen Esch, chair of the Windows Fund Campaign; and Patricia Edgar, Chair of the church’s restoration committee. Photo by Laurie Cohen.

    On Sunday, September 15th, twenty-three members of Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill visited Kelly Art Glass in Millvale. The church is one of the recipients this year of a matching grant from PHLF’s Historic Religious Properties Program. As a result, Kelly Art Glass is restoring four stained-glass windows from Redeemer, including the replacement of plexiglass with vented storm windows.

    John Kelly, founder of Kelly Art Glass, and two of his assistants greeted everyone and explained why older windows sometimes need to be restored. In the U.S., it was generally thought that lead had a lifespan of 80 to 100 years, but when glass historians visited French cathedrals and churches, they noticed that the windows were still in place after more than 400 years. The reason is that the French added 2% of antimony to the lead, a practice that was incorporated in U.S. lead production beginning in the 1960s.

    In preparing to restore art-glass windows, John always looks into the work and history of the original artist. Redeemer windows were created by Howard Gilman Wilbert between 1939 and 1962. Wilbert was the founder of Pittsburgh Stained Glass Studio, the foremost glass painters of their day. He was known for his complicated and beautiful designs. Church of the Redeemer is the only church in the United States where Wilbert designed all the windows.

    For many years, it was common for churches to use plastic storm windows to protect them from the elements or from damage. Unfortunately, the air pocket created between the storm window and stained glass would cause heat to build up, which then would cause the relatively soft lead to buckle. When lead buckles, it takes the window with it, so the window requires “re-lead restoration.” Using a flexible, silicone caulk allows movement of the material, and replacing the plastic with vented-glass storm windows allows the air to circulate. The restoration increases air circulation, pressure equalization, and ultimately, the longevity of the windows.

    John described the process of removing the Church of the Redeemer windows for repair. It was a delicate task because of their condition. The team built a wooden shipping-container-like structure, containing Styrofoam and bubble wrap, to protect the transfer from the Squirrel Hill church to the Millvale studio. No scaffolding was used, which church members appreciated.

    During the restoration, glass worker Pete Boucher discovered an unusual practice. Pieces of glass were hidden behind the lead with the words “by Mr. and Mrs. John Sherriff” etched onto the window. It is rare to find donors’ names incorporated into the glass.

    The narthex screen had buckled, so brass strips were added through the glass to strengthen the window. In some cases, glass was added to increase the visibility of the scenes depicted. In places where glass was broken, the color had to be matched and painted over.

    John and his assistants walked the visitors through the process of glass and lead restoration. First, a template of the window is created by laying a piece of paper over the window and chalking out the outline to create a rubbing. The individual pieces of glass are then laid to soak in a tray of non-detergent solvent for several days, in order to dissolve concrete or any other substance, and are scrubbed. The clean pieces are then placed over the rubbing in the places where they will be reattached, and outlines of the pieces are drawn. The outlines of the glass are nailed into the plywood underneath the rubbing to hold them in place. The thicker pieces of glass are used to create shading. Finally, all of the pieces are held together by the lead.

    Stained-glass window restoration is a thorough undertaking. It sometimes takes years of research to understand the windows’ history and construction before restoration itself can begin. Kelly Art Glass documents all its work, including recording field notes, before-and-after photos, correspondence regarding the windows, and a detailed description of the restoration process. This ensures that future generations know what work was done, so that if restoration technology changes, the necessary adjustments in the work can be made.

    Church of the Redeemer members were enthusiastic during the tour and thanked PHLF for the opportunity to have their windows restored. Their enthusiasm was matched by John’s passion for his work and his delight in sharing some of his knowledge with the parishioners. He said that windows like these are an extremely personal investment, but they bring joy to parishioners and the public for generations.

  5. Thank You Summer Interns

    Rachel Harris (Kent State University), Michael Jacobs (University of Pittsburgh), and Christopher Micsky (Robert Morris University) volunteered with PHLF, May through August, assisting with our archival and educational programs. We thank them for their help and wish them much success as they continue their studies in architecture, public history, and history, respectively.

    Michael assisted primarily with our archives, rehousing several collections in our Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive and also arranging and inventorying our pamphlet collection in our James D. Van Trump Library. Rachel and Chris assisted with our walking tours, taking photographs and observing best practices. Rachel also completed final edits for an Architectural Terms Primer for our docents. Chris and Michael archived our collection of historic religious property grant applications.

  6. Manchester Academic Charter School Students Unveil Artwork and a Story Box Celebrating the North Side

    Saturday, August 24 was a day of celebration for the Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS), PHLF, and the Saturday Light Brigade. Students unveiled North Side: The “Best Side,” a 36-foot-long mural and a “Story Box” of audio clips in their new middle school on the second floor of the former Allegheny Carnegie Library.

    The Fine Foundation and the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation funded the collaborative project initiated by PHLF and completed in cooperation with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Saturday Light Brigade, Greg Pytlik (designer), and Emily Newman and Hassan Sharif (MACS art teachers).

    “The goal of this project was to give MACS students a chance to show off their skills as artists, interviewers, and storytellers and to help them feel at home in their new school environment, in the presence of artwork and stories they created,” said Louise Sturgess, Executive Director of PHLF.

    The mural includes details of North Side places, from MACS’ elementary school on Liverpool Street to the Carnegie Science Center, National Aviary, Allegheny Commons, Mattress Factory, City of Asylum, Randyland, Children’s Museum campus, Andy Warhol Museum and Bridge, Sarah Heinz House, Heinz Lofts, and Sixteenth Street Bridge. The Story Box includes audio clips from seven community leaders, and from eleven MACS students who talk about their art project, their new school, the North Side, their career hopes, and leadership.

    With the Manchester Academic Charter School on the second floor and MuseumLab on the first floor, the former Allegheny Carnegie Library is full of people, activity, and artwork once again. It’s a preservation triumph––and we commend the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and all their partners for making this historic landmark an integral part of the North Side once again. For years to come, we hope that North Side: The “Best Side” will help MACS students and teachers feel at home on Pittsburgh’s North Side, where they can discover the history, see the beauty, and learn, explore, and belong. These phrases are part of the mural.

  7. Landmarks Scholarship Recipients Celebrate in Dollar Bank’s Heritage Center

    In the photo gallery below are 15 photos from our Scholarship Reception on July 11 in the Dollar Bank Heritage Center in Downtown Pittsburgh. Joe Smith, Senior Vice President of Dollar Bank, and David Brashear, Chairman of the Landmarks Scholarship Committee, welcomed our four new scholarship recipients:

    • Nancy Marie C. Beinlich, from Elizabeth Forward Senior High School, will be studying Biology at The College of William and Mary;
    • Maya R. Berardi, from Avonworth High School, will be studying English at the University of Pennsylvania;
    • Lauren N. Jasper, from The Ellis School, will be studying Architecture at Cornell University; and
    • Francesca Lojacono, from Pittsburgh CAPA, will be studying Architecture at Cornell University.

    Each recipient will receive a $6,000 scholarship award for book and tuition expenses, payable over four years. PHLF’s Scholarship Program unites teenagers from geographically, economically, and racially diverse backgrounds within Allegheny County in their love for Pittsburgh. At a time of transition and new challenges in their lives, recipients are connected with our organization that helps support them as they pursue their educational goals, while keeping them anchored to the Pittsburgh region.

    Photos by Randall A. Coleman, Redd Vision.

    PHLF trustees, staff, and former recipients joined in welcoming our four new winners. PHLF trustee David Brashear initiated the Landmarks Scholarship Program in 1999. Since then, ninety young people from Allegheny County have benefited, and many have continued to stay in touch with PHLF and support our mission. Greg Bykowski, who was one of our first recipients, summed up the value of our Scholarship Program in his note of congratulations to our new recipients:

    Please wish my luck to the honorees. I hope that they enjoy their college experience. Also, please convey my gratitude to those who manage the scholarship. I am forever grateful for the opportunities that PHLF has provided me both before and after being awarded one of the inaugural scholarships in 1999. Can you believe that it has been twenty years?

    A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Greg lives in Pittsburgh with his family and works at Transtar, Inc.

    PHLF’s Scholarship Program is funded by generous contributions from the Brashear Family Named Fund, the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Landmarks Scholarship Fund, including donations to the 2008 and 2014 Scholarship Celebrations. To contribute, visit: www.phlf.org or contact Mary Lu Denny at PHLF (marylu@phlf.org; 412-471-5808, ext. 527).

  8. We Welcome Four New Landmarks Scholarship Recipients

    PHLF Trustee David Brashear, Chair of the Landmarks Scholarship Committee, recently announced that scholarships ($6,000 each, payable over four years for book and tuition expenses) will be awarded to four high-school graduates from Allegheny County:

    • Nancy Marie C. Beinlich, from Elizabeth Forward Senior High School, who will be studying Biology at The College of William and Mary;
    • Maya R. Berardi, from Avonworth High School, who will be studying English at the University of Pennsylvania;
    • Lauren N. Jasper, from The Ellis School, who will be studying Architecture at Cornell University; and
    • Francesca Lojacono, from Pittsburgh CAPA, will be studying Architecture at Cornell University.

    Seventy-one high-school seniors from Allegheny County applied to our Landmarks Scholarship Program this April. Each person wrote a memorable essay about a place in Allegheny County that is personally meaningful and submitted letters of recommendation attesting to his/her academic achievement and community involvement. Essay topics included the Benedum Center, Braddock Carnegie Library, “Clayton,” the courtyard at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Crafton, Duquesne Incline, East Liberty, First Lutheran Church, George Westinghouse Bridge, Glen’s Custard in Springdale, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Mellon Park, North Park, Oliver Miller Homestead, South Side Market House, Strip District, Swissvale War Memorial, and Triple B Farms. All the essays are bound and archived at PHLF. Together they show how young people connect with the historic built environment that PHLF and many others work hard to protect. We thank each person for applying and encourage all the applicants to stay in touch with PHLF through their complimentary four-year membership.

    “The Landmarks Scholarship recognizes students who have achieved academic excellence and possess the potential to make a difference in the Pittsburgh community and beyond,” said Mr. Brashear. Since 1999, PHLF has awarded 76 scholarships and 14 honorable mentions to high-achieving students who are active in their communities and pursuing a college education. Of these 90 winners, 35 graduated from Pittsburgh Public Schools and 55 graduated from other schools within Allegheny County.

    PHLF’s Scholarship Program is funded by generous contributions from the Brashear Family Named Fund, the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Landmarks Scholarship Fund, including donations to the 2008 and 2014 Scholarship Celebrations. To contribute, visit: www.phlf.org or contact Mary Lu Denny at PHLF (marylu@phlf.org; 412-471-5808, ext. 527).

    “With additional contributions to our Scholarship Program,” said PHLF Executive Louise Sturgess, “we will be able to award more scholarships. So many of the applicants are especially deserving and need financial assistance. In the long run, we benefit by developing strong relationships with all the applicants since they share our values and care deeply about the Pittsburgh region. We thank the Brashear family for initiating this program that has given our organization the means to connect with so many outstanding young people.”

    The Landmarks Scholarship Program is the culmination of PHLF’s educational programs for thousands of students from grades PreK-12 and the beginning of its programs for adults. It gives Allegheny County students an incentive to excel in school, become involved in their communities, and express their commitment to this region in a meaningful way.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633