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New Downtown Public Art Project an Interactive Tribute to Influential Pittsburghers



The City of Pittsburgh is pleased to announce the installation of We Are Pittsburgh, a large-scale public art installation at the corner of Stanwix Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard.

We Are Pittsburgh transforms the facade of 625 Stanwix Street into a visual tribute to influential people who had their beginnings in the Pittsburgh area. The art installation takes place on a mixed-use building; comprised of 20 artistic banners covering the window bays of nine stories of the north and east elevations of the parking garage portion of the building. The composition depicts noteworthy individuals such as Queen Aliquippa, Art Blakey, Andrew Carnegie, Rachel Carson, Roberto Clemente, Thaddeus Mosley, Asa Philip Randolph, Dakota Staton, Gertrude Stein, Andy Warhol, Mary Lou Williams and August Wilson.

From steel industrialists to activists, poets, and singers, this installation celebrates those who, through their significant contributions and accomplishments, both in and beyond the city, have helped make Pittsburgh great. The artwork is created using pixilation, triangulation, bursts of color, and abstraction, generating an optical illusion that changes the artwork depending on the distance and viewpoint. The composition emerges in greater clarity when seen through a camera or phone screen, encouraging interactivity through technology.

This revolving project marks the first collaboration between the City’s Public Art & Civic Design Division (PA+CD) of the Department of City Planning and private developers. PA+CD worked with Joco LLP and Urban Growth Properties in the coordination and planning of this large public art installation in Pittsburgh. With the banners rising 80 feet high, and fronting the Allegheny River directly across from PNC Park, this dynamic and colorful intervention will be easily seen from downtown streets, from on the river, or from either shore.

The designers of We Are Pittsburgh, Joshua Chang and Aaron Ramon, responded to a Request For Proposals put out by PA+CD in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget. An advisory committee comprised of representatives from the City, project partners, Downtown business owners and stakeholders reviewed proposals. Proposals were scored on specific criteria, including the overall concept with regard to creativity, innovation, and aesthetics; thematic significance; relation to the urban context and visual impact on viewer’s experience of the natural and build environment; and the artist’s previous work and experience. Conceptual and design considerations stipulated that the artwork could be abstract or representational, the composition could be considered as individual panels or as a combined canvas, and the two sides of the building could be designed separately or as a continuum. The advisory committee recommended semi-finalists, with a City Committee se lecting the final awardee, We Are Pittsburgh. The project was presented and approved at an Art Commission public hearing and a Planning Commission briefing and public hearing.

Ramon and Chang state that the key concepts of We Are Pittsburgh are “History, Togetherness, Pride, and Color.” Large plains of color and shape are seen up close, with the faces gradually becoming more discernible when viewed from a distance, creating a sense of discovery. The figures are backed by templates of historical maps combined with the bright tones of the current transit system. The overall composition celebrates Pittsburgh as a city whose identity and history was forged by the people who have called this place home. The positioning of the figures on the artwork creates a correlation between the individuals and the landscape, with Rachel Carson, Andy Warhol, and Roberto Clemente facing their respectively named bridges, and August Wilson looking towards the August Wilson Center.  

The project represents a critical endeavor to harness the power of art in the public realm and in the everyday visual and spatial experience of the public, as well as a tool to enhance the aesthetics of the public environment. In an era where funding for public art is limited, a partnership with a private entity – with clear City leadership throughout the process – becomes an important addition and a precedent to create opportunities for public art in the City of Pittsburgh. Projects of this scale and nature inspire excellence in design and showcase innovative artistic implementations, while paying homage to Pittsburgh’s legacy.

#WeArePittsburgh #WeArePGH

Photo credit: SteelCityPhoto

For questions about the project contact:

Yesica Guerra                                                                                       

Public Art and Civic Design Manager

City of Pittsburgh

Department of City Planning

200 Ross St. 4th floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

[p] 412.255.8996

[e] yesica.guerra@pittsburghpa.gov

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