Contact: Meg Siegel, Public Relations, College of Fine Arts

For immediate release:

(412) 268-5765 April 22, 1999

Paul Kovach, Public Relations Director, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

(412) 471-6070 x119



PITTSBURGH--The Nine Mile Run Greenway Project Team will exhibit Conversations in the Rust Belt: Brownfields into Greenways at the Wood Street Galleries from July 10 through Aug. 15, 1999. The multi-media exhibition reflects three years of analysis and community dialogue on the issues of public space, art and ecology in the context of the controversial Nine Mile Run development in the slag-filled hills of Pittsburgh’s East End. Realizing the greenway project in the development would fulfill famous park designer Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.’s vision for an extension of Frick Park and East End access to the Monongahela River.

Directed by artists Bob Bingham, Tim Collins and Reiko Goto, and attorney John Stephen, the Nine Mile Run Greenway Project's interdisciplinary team includes a wide range of practitioners, including academics, Pittsburgh city officials and members of the community. Pittsburgh city planners Joan Blaustein and John Rahaim have provided access, overview and guidance as the team worked to develop its innovative plan and process. Sue Thompson and John Rawlins of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History have studied and inventoried land biodiversity, while Pennsylvania State University scientists, geomorphologist Peggy Johnson and wetland scientist Andrew Cole have analyzed the aquatic systems. David Dzombak, a civil engineer at Carnegie Mellon University, has tested the stream and analyzed various outfalls to pinpoint failures in adjacent sewage systems. Pennsylvania State University landscape architect Ken Tamminga has analyzed landscape ecology and restoration practices as they relate to the design process.

Commenting on the team's unique creative practice, Collins says, "We approach Nine Mile Run as a post-industrial landscape, an interconnected system of opportunities often constrained by industrial policies and practices. Our work is a systems intervention that addresses perception, communication and education. We engage our colleagues in the sciences to help us understand the issues, then we take specific action to affect the decision-making process."

Funded by a grant from the Howard Heinz Endowment, the Nine Mile Run Greenway Project Team was formed in 1996 to research the cultural issues and ecological opportunities pertaining to the public space at the Nine Mile Run development site. The work is a project of the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, an interdisciplinary center in the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon. The STUDIO was founded in 1989 to support experimental work in the arts, particularly work which engages complex systems. The project team has worked closely with the Pittsburgh City Planning Office and the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Conversations in the Rust Belt: Brownfields into Greenways will reflect the issues facing all cities emerging from heavy industrial histories. The exhibit will integrate images and texts of the changing industrial landscape using the Wood Street Galleries as a site of public discussion and collective design. It will use one of the gallery’s two floors to give historical insight into the industrial era which produced the slag-filled site. The other floor will present the struggle to define the post-industrial present. Artist Bob Bingham and historian Joel Tarr have developed the historical presentation, which will include images from public and private archives throughout Western Pennsylvania. Bingham has also directed the contemporary counterpoint to the historical imagery in still photography as well as video. Video artist, X-Tina Hung has collaborated on the video.


The post-industrial floor will feature a slaggarden and interactive video presentations designed to immerse the viewer in a community discussion. Complex ideas on the relationship between nature and culture and between public and private sectors will be presented in multiple media. Viewers can passively experience this presentation, or at specific points, add their own comments, thereby expanding and continuing the dialogue. Artists Collins and Richard Pell have designed the interactive content and approach for this part of the exhibition. Jamie Schulte, an artist/interactive design engineer, has collaborated on the content and its related technology, while artist Goto, soil scientist John Buck and botanist Sue Thompson have produced the natural systems design. The video is directed by Bingham.

On-site at Nine Mile Run, the project team has created "Slag Radio" to allow visitors to experience a narrative landscape as part of the physical landscape. Through a series of short-range radio transmitters placed along the stream, broadcasts of stories, historical audio clips and sound art compositions will offer contextual clues about the history and meaning of the place. The sounds will be accessible on a portable FM radio.

A final community workshop will be held July 23-25 at Wood Street Galleries to develop consensus on the design guidelines for the greenway. At this workshop, which is in partnership with Pittsburgh City Planning, the project’s interdisciplinary team will present a variety of community-based design options developed over the last two years. The final presentation design of the options will be developed by Suzy Meyer of Image Earth, with workshop materials provided by Stephen. Workshop time and details will be announced.

The Wood Street Galleries is a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, a non-profit organization whose mission is the cultural and economic development of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District through public and private support. The trust encourages diverse performing and visual arts programs within the District and in a symbiotic relationship with additional economic development in the District’s 14-square block area, downtown.

Wood Street Galleries, at 601 Wood St., above the Wood St. "T" station, Downtown, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on July 10.

Project Team:
Bob Bingham, Tim Collins, Reiko Goto, Richard Pell and John Stephen.

Project Assistants:
Herb Gilliland, Katherine Hunnimen, Jimmy Mathew, Eva Tarbell, Karin Tuxen and Jina Valentine

Curator: Kirk Savage

Advisors: Murray Horne and Bryan Rogers