Ground has been broken on an $8 million restoration project at Mellon Square in downtown Pittsburgh. Susan Rademacher, parks curator for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, says 55 years ago Mellon Square became the first modern garden plaza in the country built in conjunction with a parking garage....
"Cities like San Francisco had dug out underneath an old park and built a parking garage, but this (Mellon Square) was the first that was conceived of as one piece, one design, with a green roof garden for the public on top of levels of parking."
Rademacher says this was the precursor of the green roof movement and it was the first green space in downtown Pittsburgh even before Point State Park.
Today, the park is in a state of deterioration according to Rademacher because of a lack of regular maintenance. The Conservancy has reached a 30 year agreement with the city of Pittsburgh to provide day to day maintenance.
Phase 1 of the restoration project includes 2 signature pieces: the Cascade Fountain and a new terrace over the retail shops on Smithfield Street.
Rademacher says the mechanics of the fountain have not been replaced and as a result the fountain only works manually when a city employee is on site.
"We're going to put back all the automated controls so the fountain will be running all of the time. We're also going to restore the look and feel of the fountain to the original 1955 design which had a much lighter, more sparkling kind of appearance."
The new terrace will add 15% more usable space which she says will result inf intimate, relaxing green space for lunch and for enjoying the view of the fountain. The first phase will also include restoration of the entry staircases and the reinstallation of the ground level lighting and is to be completed in Spring of 2012.
Support for phase 1 comes from the Colcom Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Rademacher says they are continuing fundraising for the completion phase and have received grants from the Heinz Endowments, BNY Mellon Foundation, the Benter Foundation, the Buhl Foundation, Eden Hall Foundation, and W.I. Patterson Charitable Fund.