Seeing the Impact of a Public Architecture

A Look at "Building Optimism" at the CMOA

By Brian Gaudio, Assoc. AIA Posted on November 4, 2016

As I walked into the Heinz Architecture Center I was greeted by large 4’ x 8’ sheets of finished plywood leaning against the wall. On them was printed in bright blue letters, “Building Optimism: Public Space in South America.” The exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art showcases “the powerful public role of architecture and urban design.” Many of the projects are located in informal portions of the city where residents use found materials and repurpose them in meaningful ways (hence the plywood title boards seen throughout the exhibit). The show features innovative public space and infrastructure projects in Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, and Colombia. El Equipo de Mazzanti’s awe-inspiring Biblioteca España, ELEMENTAL’s incremental housing project Villa Verde, and Urban...

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The Story of Collapse

The Art of Seth Clark

By Bea Spolidoro, Assoc. AIA Posted on August 18, 2015

The first time I viewed Seth Clark’s work, the intern architect in me felt threatened. What loss and shame in all of these collapsing architectures! Clark’s collages, though, are too mesmerizing to be dismissed that easily, and I couldn’t resist that attractive pull of something that scared me. I decided to learn more and set up an interview with Clark, who has been named the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts 2015 Emerging Artist of the Year. I started with a joke about the fact that, initially, he could be seen as a nemesis of architects, and believe it or not, that broke the ice. While also working as a graphic artist, his installations and collages focus on collapsing buildings and...

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90 Neighborhoods

Ron Donoughe's Love Letter to Pittsburgh

By Becky Spevack Posted on May 12, 2015

“What is around here that I should paint?” That is the question Ron Donoughe found himself asking a lot last year. In the summer of 2013, he undertook his ’90 Pittsburgh Neighborhoods’ project, committing to paint a scene from each and every one of Pittsburgh’s 90 unique neighborhoods, in alphabetical order, within a year. And he quickly found that reaching out to those who lived there helped guide his brush. “If you humble yourself to ask, it makes a stronger connection to the neighbors, to the community.” THE STUDIO VISIT I find myself hunched against the wind as I wait at the backdoor to a large brick building in Lawrenceville. It’s a grey-skied day… typical Pittsburgh. The solid wood opens...

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Sketch to Structure: For the People

Seeing How Buildings Take Shape at The HAC

By Bea Spolidoro, Assoc. AIA Posted on March 1, 2015

The process of architecture is not linear, with much back and forth happening before getting to the built product. Nevertheless, Curator Alyssum Skjeie was able to capture interesting architectural moments – and deliver them to the public – with the Heinz Architectural Center’s latest exhibit ‘Sketch to Structure,’ a collection of drawings, sketches, and architectural models that show how architects work. “The goal is to keep it broad and accessible,” Skjeie points out as we start the visit together… All the pieces displayed are from the HAC collection, some donated by architects, and others obtained over decades, with a couple of purchases made as recently as last year. Some historic drawings, already part of the museum’s Fine Arts department before...

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Message of Hope, pt. 2

Maggie's Centres: A Blueprint for Cancer Care

By Raymond Bowman, Assoc. AIA Posted on November 18, 2014

In 1988, Maggie Keswick Jencks was diagnosed with breast cancer. For four years she battled, seemingly successfully, but in 1993 the cancer roared back. She was given two months to live. Crushed, she returned home, despondent. And that’s how she may have lived her last two hopeless months. But with her husband Charles Jencks, she assembled a “pile of hope” from popular news at the time. Every day details came out about some new treatment or another. People all over were cheating their own two month death sentences, through treatment, diet, exercise. Empowered by this information, she took charge of her treatment and sought advanced chemotherapy. She also connected with fellow cancer patients for support and community. She lived two full...

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Message of Hope, pt. 1

A personal look at Maggie's Centres with Charles Jencks

By Vincent DeFazio, Assoc. AIA Posted on November 12, 2014

Charles Jencks stands at the podium, tall and lanky but defiantly confident. A well-packed Carnegie Music Hall applauds the world-renowned landscape architect and architectural theorist as he pipes out a few initial thoughts to calm the diverse crowd. After a brief description of a 16th century painting on the screen above his head depicting hope on the horizons, Jencks jumps straight into what has propelled him into the international spotlight; Maggie’s Centres. Before even giving an overall synopsis of what his famed centers are, Jencks makes sure to tell the audience what inspired them: hope. He explains that hope is an architect’s best tool when creating any built environment; buildings are trajectories into the future – a horizon and a...

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UDA @ 50

Firm celebrates half a century

Founded in 1964 by David Lewis, FAIA and Ray Gindroz, FAIA, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Urban Design Associates. To mark this milestone, UDA has put together a pop-up exhibit of the firm’s work, which will be on display at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Grand Staircase Mezzanine from October 28 through November 6. The exhibit is entitled “UDA @ 50 – Democracy in Action” and is co-sponsored by Heinz Architectural Center and the CMOA. “For 50 years UDA has practiced urban design and architecture based on ‘democracy in action,’” writes Lewis. “From our beginning we have enfranchised citizens in the evolution of their neighborhoods, towns and cities, and in this exhibition we celebrate the many partnerships we...

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New Art Landscapes speak with many voices

Blurring distinctions between art, architecture, and landscape

By Michelle Nermon, Assoc. AIA Posted on October 5, 2012

The new exhibit at the Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art – White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes – is an abounding display of six art institutions – or “sites,” as curator  Raymund  Ryan prefers – from around the globe that challenge the traditional museum setting. All six diverse sites are connected in their rupturing of the  “white cube,”  ultimately blurring distinctions between art, architecture, and landscape. Chosen by Ryan, the featured sites are themselves substantial, and so is the exhibit, whose mixed media collection is punctuated by the featured photographs of renowned  Iwan  Baan (a recent recipient of the Gold Lion at this year’s Venice Biennale).  White Cube, Green Maze  also features work from  18 different...

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Maya Lin: Intimate Landscape

Land, water, and bringing the outdoors in

By Kathryn Walsh, Assoc. AIA Posted on February 28, 2012

Architects and designers of Pittsburgh are all too familiar with the post-industrial landscape, weaving design through landscape and infrastructure. It is with Maya Lin‘s new exhibit at the Heinz Architectural Center of the Carnegie Museum of Art that we are given an opportunity to escape the built world and strip down to the intimacy of the land. In her new piece specifically made for Pittsburgh, “Pin River — Ohio (Allegheny and Monogahela),” individual custom-made pins are strategically tapped into a white gallery wall to honor the three rivers that merge at Pittsburgh.  Parts to the whole, we are presented with the impact of Pittsburgh’s connection to the larger geographic network. Having had a large influence on my academic days at...

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