Allegheny Landing to receive makeover


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Correction/Clarification: Michael Belman is objects conservator for the Carnegie Museum of Art. An incorrect title was used in a previous version of this story. Also the cost of landscaping improvements is $1.59 million. An incorrect figure was used in the earlier version.(Published July 23, 2013)

After 29 years, Allegheny Landing -- the initial piece of riverfront redevelopment on the North Shore and one of the first urban sculpture gardens in the country -- is ready for a makeover.

The $1.59 million restoration will make improvements to the hillside park and plaza along the Allegheny River between the Clemente and Warhol bridges in two phases coordinated by Riverlife. The Carnegie Museum of Art is coordinating restoration of three sculptures at the site.

Allegheny Landing begins with a flat area along Isabella Street between One and Two North Shore Center and stretches behind the office buildings down the bank to the river.

"It's the same basic footprint and concept, but with some 21st-century updates," said Stephan Bontrager, director of communications for Riverlife. The project includes several phases, some of which have been funded and some that are works in progress.

The first aspect will be replacement of the dock, a $240,000 project with funding from the Port of Pittsburgh, the state Fish and Boat Commission and local foundations.

On deck is a $667,000 project to upgrade the hard surfaces in the plaza surrounding sculptures at the site and install new LED and solar lighting. This will include replacing some concrete and stripping and resurfacing bituminous pavement.

Pittsburgh City Council is expected to apply today for a $250,000 Greenways, Trails and Recreation grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to supplement money from the Allegheny County Economic Development Department and private foundations.

Still awaiting funding is the $159,000 project to upgrade the hillside lawn and revamp the landscaping area with native plants and restoration of the display fountain at the entrance park on Isabella Street. Experts are examining the fountain to determine what that work will involve.

At the same time the physical aspects of the park are improved, the Carnegie Museum of Art will coordinate work to restore three sculptures it maintains at the site.

"That's one of the more important aspects of this, preserving and protecting the artwork," Mr. Bontrager said. "This is one of the nation's oldest urban outdoor sculpture parks."

Jonathan Gaugler, media relations manager for the museum, said the museum's objects conservator, Michael Bellman, will oversee the restorations. The sculptures were created specifically for Allegheny Landing.

One involves removing and repainting "Pittsburgh Variations" by George Sugarman. Two mosaics, "Piazza Lavoro" and "Mythical Source," have deteriorated over the years, resulting in part of the sculptures on the ground wearing away. The artist, Ned Smyth, has agreed to refurbish the work.

"It's definitely a conservation effort rather than a reconstruction project," Mr. Gaugler said.

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Ed Blazina: eblazina@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1470.


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