The City of Pittsburgh unveiled We Are Pittsburgh, which transformed the façade of the 625 Stanwix Street parking garage into a visual tribute to famous Pittsburgh-born industrialists, artists, musicians, athletes, and others who made significant contributions throughout history. The project was submitted and designed by Joshua Chang and Aaron Ramon, who state that the key concepts of We Are Pittsburgh are “History, Togetherness, Pride, and Color.”
Comprised of 20 banners measuring at 80 feet high, the work uses a combination of pixels, triangulation, bursts of color, and abstraction to create the various chosen subjects. It also includes an interactive element that brings the subjects into focus when viewed through a camera or phone screen.
Onlookers are also encouraged to post about their experience with the artwork via social media using the tags #WeArePittsburgh and #WeArePGH.
The city plans to keep We Are Pittsburgh up as a revolving program/project, with the artwork changing in a few years, depending on funding.
Yesica Guerra, the Public Art and Civic Design manager for the City, envisioned, coordinated, and oversaw the project. Guerra says it was important to bring We Are Pittsburgh to fruition, as it 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.”
Among those being featured are widely known figures such as steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, pop artist Andy Warhol, playwright August Wilson, and Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente, as well activists like environmentalist Rachel Carson. We Are Pittsburgh also sheds light on lesser-known, but no less important figures, including Seneca tribe leader Queen Aliquippa, who was a key British ally during the French and Indian War, African-American Civil Rights and labor leader Asa Philip Randolph, and African-American jazz vocalist Dakota Staton, who was born in Homewood.
The project also marks the first collaboration between the City’s Public Art & Civic Design Division of the Department of City Planning and private developers. In this case, the Public Art & Civic Design Division worked with Joco LLP and Urban Growth Properties to make We Are Pittsburgh happen.
“In an era where funding for public art is limited, a partnership with a private entity - with a clear city leadership throughout the process – this becomes an important addition and a precedent to create opportunities for public art in the City of Pittsburgh,” says Guerra. “Projects of this scale and nature inspire excellence in design and showcase innovative artistic implementations while paying homage to Pittsburgh’s legacy.”