Sculpture All Around
Hats off to two local sculpture efforts. The first, by longtime design innovator Dan Droz is “The Gathering,”(above) the largest sculpture to be installed in a public setting in Pittsburgh in over 20 years. It is sited at the entrance to The Heritage Trail, at 15th Street and Waterfront Place in the Strip District. Farther north, Allegheny County, the Allegheny County Parks Foundation and the Allegheny Regional Asset District have unveiled the Hartwood Acres Sculpture Garden. Some 40 years in the making, the outdoor exhibition space includes 13 works acquired by the Parks Department in the mid-1980s and one recently commissioned piece. Many of the works have been moved to new settings and restored on site. Congratulations to Dan and all those involved in the Hartwood project for making Pittsburgh a little more interesting, and a little more beautiful.
Rachel Carson EcoVillage
If ever there were a region that could use an Eco Village to provide a metaphorical counterbalance to its industrial past, it’s Pittsburgh. And soon there will be one, on Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus in Richland Township in the North Hills. An Eco Village is a community designed to be socially, economically, culturally and ecologically sustainable — and to have the smallest possible detrimental impact on the environment. The Rachel Carson EcoVillage has 20 of 35 housing units pre-sold and will break ground this fall in expectation of a summer 2023 move-in. The community’s founding members include educators, engineers, artists, and other creators and professionals.
The Right Direction
By reducing the corporate net income tax, which was second highest in the nation, the Pennsylvania government has finally made a move to improve the state’s moribund business climate. Legislators and the governor cut the tax from 9.99 percent to 8.99 percent. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Ohio, by comparison, has no state corporate net income tax. The move in Harrisburg comes at a time when Pittsburgh and Philadelphia place 48th and 49th, respectively, out of the top 55 U.S. metro areas in the Wall Street Journal’s annual ranking of the strength of metro job markets.
New UPMC Presbyterian Underway
UPMC has broken ground on a new $1.5 billion, 17-story Presbyterian hospital, which is the biggest healthcare construction project in the state and will be the largest hospital in Pittsburgh history. It’s great news for the region and also for patients who almost need a compass to navigate the current, labyrinthine building, constructed more than a century ago. The new version, which will have 636 private rooms, is expected to open in 2026.
For the Birds
The National Aviary has announced plans to upgrade its largest and second oldest habitat, the Wetlands, in a transformation that will include new bird-friendly glass, energy efficient air circulation and water filtration systems, new plants, a new walkway, and the addition of sculptural coast trees that provide perching for birds and interactive elements for visitors. Congratulations to Cheryl Tracy and the rest of the staff for this major project, which is expected to be unveiled by the end of this year — the Aviary’s 70th anniversary year.
In what is marking the beginning of a new era, the Port Authority is changing its name to Pittsburgh Regional Transit. The name change is more keeping with what the agency actually is and does, and it coincides with a rebranding of signs and transit stops designed to improve the ease of navigating the system for users. Authority operators will undergo training classes to improve interactions with the public. First-rate public transit is the hallmark of a functioning city and it’s great to see ours moving ahead.
A Brother Indeed
Times of international crisis are when one of the most efficient nonprofits in the country rises to the challenge. That nonprofit — Brother’s Brother — happens to be right here on Pittsburgh’s North Side, and it distributes medical and humanitarian aid all over the world. Since the Ukraine war began, partnering with UPMC, Allegheny Health Network, Giant Eagle, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Brother’s Brother has raised more than $2 million and sent four shipments of medical supplies and non-perishables to Ukraine.