Mellon Park Project
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the City of Pittsburgh, the Office of Public Art, and the family and friends of Annie Seamans have completed the restoration and revitalization of 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 in the city. The memorial artwork is a subtle, 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. The project brings 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, the historic walled garden, a 200'x120' space that is surrounded on three sides with beautiful brick and limestone walls, was also restored. Anchored at one end with a flagstone terrace and fountain, the garden opens up into the rest of Mellon Park. Guided by the Mellon Park Preservation and Management Plan (2001), enhancements included restoration of 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.
This project was completed in June, 2010. View before and after photos of the garden today and in the 1930s here. Resources on the park, taken from the 2001 Mellon Park Preservation and Management Plan, can be found at these links:
Vision for the Memorial to Ann Katharine Seamans
The nature and experience of the space were two major focal points of the planning for the Walled Garden. 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.
Once a tranquil space for the Mellon family, the garden now accommodates all community members. With that consideration, the design team looked to increase shade, seating, and richness of artistic detail -- to enhance an intimate natural room that is set in a larger park. The garden is now a special place for all families to enjoy, a little world unto itself that opens outwards towards the larger, active park space beyond.
There is an enchanted aspect to the garden which the art enhances. Simplicity and enduring beauty were key in its design. Rather than having an immediate and fleeting impact, the artwork is discovered by visitors to the garden and has lasting meaning and impact.
Partners in 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