Mellon Park Project
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has teamed with the City of Pittsburgh, the Office of Public Art, and the family and friends of Annie Seamans to restore and improve Mellon Park's Walled Garden.
The Ann Katharine Seamans Memorial honors Annie, who loved the garden all her life, while providing visitors a beautiful, intimate space. The memorial artwork is intended as a subtle and well-integrated enhancement to the Walled Garden, which is itself a classic work of landscape architecture by Vitale and Geiffert, containing sculpture by Edmond R. Amateis. This project will bring new life to an extraordinary place of Pittsburgh history and cultural value, restoring Mellon Park's Walled Garden in a way that also honors the life and memory of Ann Katharine Seamans.
Artist Janet Zweig was selected through a national call for artists to develop the memorial artwork in collaboration with the design team. Janet learned about Annie by talking with her family, friends, and teachers. When she heard that Annie loved to be in the garden in the evening, watching the stars emerge in the night sky, Janet found her inspiration. Embedded in the lawn are 150 points of light representing stars and planets over Pittsburgh when Annie was born. That date and the star coordinates give the work its title, 7:11AM 11.20.1979 79º55'W 40º27'N © Janet Zweig 2009. The effect is created by softly glowing points of light surrounded by small granite discs inscribed with information about each star.
LaQuatra Bonci Associates, a Pittsburgh landscape architecture firm, provided services for the design and oversight of installation of the garden. In addition to the artwork, plans call for restoring the historic walled garden, a 200'x120' space that is surrounded on three sides with beautiful brick and limestone walls. It is anchored at one end with a flagstone terrace and fountain and opens into the rest of Mellon Park at the other end. Guided by the Mellon Park Preservation and Management Plan (2001), enhancements include restoring the entry and adding planting, lighting, and seating. The project also included the removal of steps, changing of grades, and creation of new walks to make the garden more accessible.
The garden re-opened on June 12, 2010.
To view some photos of the garden today and in the 1930s, click here.
Below are some resources for those interested in the park, taken from the 2001 Mellon Park Preservation and Management Plan.
Vision for the Memorial to Ann Katharine Seamans
At the outset of this project, the team thought about the nature of the space and experience that it wanted to create:
It is a space that once provided tranquility and beauty to a single family. It’s now a public garden but lacks shade, seating, and richness of artistic detail. The goal is to enhance an intimate natural room that is set in a larger park. It could be a special place for families to enjoy and for children to explore … a little world unto itself that opens outwards towards the larger, active park space beyond. There is an enchanted aspect to the garden which art will enhance, drawing children in, inviting them to enjoy the interplay of plantscape and hardscape. Simplicity and enduring beauty are key; in plants as well as in art and building materials the feeling should be subtle, detailed, craftsmanly, humorous, executed with a light and loving touch. Rather than having an immediate and fleeting impact, the artwork is discovered by visitors to the garden and has lasting meaning and impact.
Annie Katharine Seamans was an accomplished young sculptor and dancer who loved the garden because it felt safe to her and because, intrinsically, she knew it was beautiful; it is both a refuge and a jewel. She first went there when she was in kindergarten and used to return with her friends to have picnics even when she was in high school. Today, her friends sometimes go there to remember her.
The Mellon Park Walled Garden Restoration
In Memory of Ann Katharine Seamans
Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Artist: Janet Zweig
Landscape Architects: LaQuatra Bonci Associates, Fred Bonci and Natalie Byrd
Consulting Landscape Architect: Heritage Landscapes, Patricia O’Donnell
Lighting Design: Hal Hilbish
Program Manager, Office of Public Art: Lea Donatelli
Director, Office of Public Art: Renee Piechocki
Parks Curator, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy: Susan Rademacher
Director of Management and Maintenance, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy: Phil Gruszka
Deputy Director, City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works: Mike Gable
Project Assistant: Benjamin Cohen
Elizabeth and Joseph Seamans