Post-Gazette: Aspinwall Riverfront Park Honored

“Playground,” a 30- by 24-foot-high bronze sculpture by artist Tom Otterness, is the centerpiece of Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

Aspinwall riverfront park honored

The accomplishments of Aspinwall Riverfront Park have been recognized this year by three leading organizations for its design and land re-use.

The American Institute of Architects chose the park’s new welcome center for a certificate of merit for historic preservation. What was the Aspinwall Marina building was re-purposed by architect Eric Fisher to frame views of the Allegheny River and the park. His design removes parts of the building. The project was supported by a $500,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

“We really liked how this was originally built as a working building in a public area, and how it continues to be a working building,” the AIA jurors wrote. “It works in sympathy with its environment and doesn’t try to outshine the setting.”

The American Planning Association of Pennsylvania named the park one of three “Great Spaces” in the state. The award recognizes “places with exemplary character, quality, identity and cultural interest and community involvement,” a  press release said. The association specifically praised the park’s brownfield redevelopment and green infrastructure, and its sensitivity to reuse of onsite demolished building materials.

The Pittsburgh Chapter of the Urban Land Institute included the park as one of five 2017 “Healthy Place” awardees, a recognition of projects and places that are shaped in ways that improve the health of people and communities.

A group of concerned citizens saved the marina property from being turned into a parking lot by banding together in 2011, with foundation support, to raise $2.3 million to purchase the site. While it carries the municipality’s name, the park is an independent nonprofit and open to the public.

A signature element is “Playground,” a sculpture that is also a children’s play area, by Brooklyn artist Tom Otterness. The artwork, which cost more than $1 million, is on permanent loan from The Grable Foundation.

The park has a quarter-mile walking trail, kayaking through a partnership with Venture Outdoors, exercise and music classes, theater performances and camps. There is sled riding in the winter and an outdoor ice skating rink will be set up in late December or early January, said executive director Susan Crookston.

Future plans include a fishing dock, Ms. Crookston said. “And one of our dreams is to get rid of that crumbling concrete at the center of the park and create an extensive lawn.” The cost estimate for that project is over $400,000.

Silver Eye fellowship winners

Silver Eye Center for Photography has announced its Fellowship 18 winners.

Soohyun Kim was awarded the international prize, Tamsen Wojtanowski the keystone prize and Anastasia Davis, the publication prize.

International prize honorable mentions went to Buck Ellison, Ryan Arthurs, Corey Escoto, Amiko Li and Mark Davis.

Keystone prize honorable mentions went to Micah Danges, Sean Stewart, Keith Yahrling, Jenna Houston and Elena Bouvie.

Publication prize  honorable mentions went to Michele Palazzi, Ryan Arthurs, Tealia Ellis Ritter, Soohyun Kim and Nathan Alexander Ward.

Works by the awardees will be exhibited at the Garfield nonprofit in June.

M. Thomas: or 412-263-1925.