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Artist Selected for Wood Street-Mon Wharf Connection Project

Monday, June 06, 2011

Point Park University and Riverlife announced today that artist Nobuho Nagasawa has been selected to collaborate with Pittsburgh landscape architecture firm LaQuatra Bonci Associates to create a stronger pedestrian connection between Point Park’s campus and the newly constructed Mon Wharf Landing linear park. The design team commission is funded by a grant from The Heinz Endowments.

As part of their design team process, the artist and landscape architects will meet with various stakeholders and the public throughout the summer.  The public is invited to a community meeting on June 7, 2011 to meet the design team and offer their perspectives about the connection between Wood Street and the Landing.  The meeting takes place from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at Point Park University in the JVH Auditorium. Attendees should check in at the security desk in Academic Hall, located at 201 Wood Street. 

Nagasawa was born in Tokyo and has been based in New York City since 2001. She received her Master of Fine Arts at Hochschule der Künste Berlin in Germany and was a visiting scholar at California Institute of the Arts, where she studied visual art, critical theory and music. An interdisciplinary artist whose site-specific work explores the places, politics, ecology and psychological dimensions of space and people, Nagasawa’s work involves in-depth research into cultural history and memory and involves extensive community participation.

In the field of public art, Nagasawa has been commissioned for more than 25 projects internationally, and received numerous awards, including a 2009 Design Excellence Award from the American Public Works Association and a 2007 Art Commission Award for Excellence in Design from the City of New York for her waterfront streetscape project. In 1997 she received the Design Excellence Award for Architecture and Public Art through the Office of Cultural Affairs of Los Angeles. Her Austin City Hall and public plaza project with Antoine Predock was featured as one of the best projects nationwide in Art in America Annual Review in 2006.

According to her artist’s statement, Nagasawa’s primary objective for the Wood Street-Mon Wharf connection project is to work with the landscape architect to “enhance the uniqueness of the site by acknowledging the cultural and natural history, and promoting greening and awareness of ecology. My goal is to create works that attract people to possibility where and as they live.”

“This is a challenging site, one that is a good match for this talented artist and landscape architect team,” says Renee Piechocki, the director of the Office of Public Art. “The collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach that is being used for this project will result in excellent concepts that will help people navigate to the newly created riverfront park to enjoy the stunning views.”

The entrance to the Mon Wharf Landing is currently separated by a harsh urban edge of roadway, highway ramps and the intersection at the juncture of Wood Street and Fort Pitt Boulevard. The design team will mark and invigorate the entrance to the Mon Wharf as a gateway that leads in one direction to the Mon Wharf Landing and in the other direction to Point Park University’s campus.

The Office of Public Art led the artist selection process for this project. They worked with Point Park University and Riverlife to develop a Request for Qualifications, which was distributed nationally. 

More than 50 local, national and international artists submitted their qualifications for consideration. Of those artists, five individuals and teams were selected to present their past work to the artist selection committee, which consisted of representatives from the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, City of Pittsburgh, PennDOT, Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Mellon University School of Art, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Riverlife and Point Park University in addition to downtown residents and business owners.  The design team will work throughout the summer to gather stakeholder feedback about the site and develop three conceptual proposals. Fundraising for final design and construction will begin this winter.

Since 1999, Riverlife has worked with property owners to create Three Rivers Park, downtown Pittsburgh’s 13-mile interconnected riverfront park system. The Mon Wharf Landing project aligns with the vision of Point Park University’s Academic Village initiative to cultivate stronger visual and user connections between Pittsburgh’s waterfront and the Point Park campus. This design project will serve to create an iconic portal where the waterfront and the campus are joined.   Point Park and Riverlife have engaged Pittsburgh’s Office of Public Art to manage the artist selection process and the development of conceptual designs. 

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