The Plan and the Project
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is currently leading a complete renewal of Mellon Square. The restoration began in 2009 when the Parks Conservancy engaged Heritage Landscapes to develop a Preservation, Interpretation & Management Plan for Mellon Square. This plan structures the Square's preservation, revitalization, interpretation and management into the future.
With a total construction budget of $11 million ($4 million of which will be for permanent maintenance and management), the restoration project fulfills recommendations of the 2009 plan. This project, to be completed in phases over several years, will restore the Square to its 1950s Modernist design, and will add 15% to the public space by creating a new terrace area overlooking Smithfield Street. The signature fountains will be restored to their original design, as will dramatic nighttime lighting. A maintenance and management fund will address long-term stewardship and sustainability of this nationally significant Modern plaza.
Improvements currently underway focus on the Smithfield Street side of the Square, including the steps, the Cascade Fountain, the new terrace, planters, and an Interpretive Wall that tells the important story of Mellon Square within the context of Pittsburgh's first Renaissance and ongoing innovative spirit.
Restoring a Landscape
All new plantings for Mellon Square will reflect the design intent of John Simonds’ 1955 plan while using the best contemporarily available plant selections. Detailed information exists regarding plant failures of the past at Mellon Square, and a variety of tools will be used to solve those earlier problems, such as constructed soils and irrigation and drainage systems. In addition to design intent, the appropriate plant selections will take into account the size of planters, ease of maintenance, and receptivity to controlled growth. Plants will be evaluated for their cultural requirements, and eliminated due to issues such as known allergens, thorns, environmental invasive potential, or a need for insect or disease control.
The Parks Conservancy is in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation to address the needs of both the park and its users and keep Mellon Square vibrant for years to come.