Officials working with ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH presented City Council Tuesday with an update on their progress in creating guidelines to how city officials and artists can best plan urban art projects.
Maggie Connor, a Principal at Urban Design Associates and DESIGNPGH consultant, said to create their “urban design manual” they’ve made two management committees, had 13 public meetings, and put together a survey for the public. She said they’ve received a total of 2,500 comments.
ARTPGH is intended to engage local, regional and national artists to facilitate care for the city’s art collection and also involve artists in public space and facility design. DESIGNPGH is aimed at creating a set of guidelines for future developers about the quality and character of design that is expected and feasible in the city’s neighborhoods.
Connor said they’re looking into how art can be incorporated into neighborhoods while acknowledging their uniqueness, understanding the local topography, and encouraging sustainable design.
She said their goal isn’t to put a particular piece of art on certain street corners, “but really understanding what have been the impediments to allowing things to happen, or what are the things we can do to actually entourage that kind of artistic development in our in our city.”
Barbara Goldstein, a public art consultant for ARTPGH said the city is ahead of others in its thinking about art.
“It’s integrating it into urban design, which means it’s not an afterthought,” said Goldman. “It’s really meant to be part of the way that the city will evolve as it moves into the 21st century.”
Goldstein said depicting military and historic leaders, or creating heroic artwork once drove public art.
She said the city now thinks of art as a way that celebrates a specific place or enhances a neighborhood. She used the temporary art pieces housed downtown and in Market Square as examples.
Goldstein said Jon Rubin, a professor at the Center for the Arts in Society at Carnegie Mellon University, will be hosting an event in April in which he asks people about their specific neighborhoods while inside a transparent van.
She said, at the end of the event, they will have a red carpet night where people who might not addend meetings can come back and discuss further what they want to see in their neighborhoods.
Connor said only the first phase of the project is finished and they will be looking to receive further comments from the West End and southern Pittsburgh neighborhoods, who participated in meetings and completed surveys at a lower rate than other city residents.