15 Descendants of Industrial Giant Gather to Celebrate Westinghouse Memorial’s $2.7 Million Renewal

OCT 4, 2016

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s restoration of Schenley Park’s Westinghouse Memorial features green infrastructure components. Dedication features cake-cutting by relatives of George Westinghouse on his October 6 birthdate. 

Pittsburgh’s renowned tribute to industrial giant George Westinghouse, Jr. – the Westinghouse Memorial in Schenley Park – will reopen after a $2.7 million renewal by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy with a celebratory cake-cutting at 10a.m on Thursday, October 6, 2016.  Fifteen direct descendants of the industrial icon are traveling from across the country and Canada to attend the ceremony and christen the major restoration and renewal of their namesake’s memorial.  October 6 is George Westinghouse’s birthdate, and the public is invited to take part in the celebration. 

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy - in partnership with the City of PittsburghMTR Landscape Architects, and engineering firm Collective Efforts – broke ground on the renewal project in September 2015.  The past year has seen the deconstruction of the site’s reflecting pool, painstaking restoration of the memorial’s bronze and granite figures and reliefs, and installation of green infrastructure components.  A new stone pathway that winds through the surrounding woodlands behind the memorial has been constructed, and all stonework on the walkways that encircle the pond were removed and rebuilt. The re-constructed lily pond – complete with submerged aeration and adorned with tropical water-lilies – has been returned to its original 1930’s contours.  New night-lighting has been introduced, allowing nighttime visitors of the Westinghouse Memorial to see a halo effect of light around the oval of the monument and pond, with reflections in the lily pond. 

The project’s cost of $2.7 million has been raised through a $500k contribution from the City of Pittsburgh, and over $2 million from foundations and individual donors.  The $2.7 total includes a $750k maintenance fund that will ensure the monument does not fall into disrepair.  Fundraising for the final $160k of the maintenance fund is ongoing.  Funds were raised from nearly 300 donors, including employees of the present-day Westinghouse Electric and Wabtec Corporation (formed by the merger of Westinghouse Air Brake Company and MotivePower Industries Corporation). 

In 1930, the Westinghouse Memorial first opened to the public more than a decade after the1914 death of George Westinghouse, Jr.  Funded by individual donations from 55,000 workers at his former firms to honor him for his astounding contributions to society, the Westinghouse Memorial’s pedigree is first rate, with architects Henry Hornbostel and Eric Fisher Wood, Sr., and artist Daniel Chester French, best known for his creation of the seated Lincoln that is the centerpiece of the Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C.

The centerpiece of Daniel Chester French’s Westinghouse ensemble, titled The Spirit of American Youth, is the figure of a young man inspired by the life of Westinghouse. Critically acclaimed as “the finest portrayal of American boyhood,” this beautiful artwork conveys a clear message: future generations will judge Westinghouse by his fruits, and they will be astonished and inspired. The statue – an all other bronze work has been hand-restored, cleaned, and preserved as part of the restoration and renewal project.

The renewed Westinghouse Memorial’s green infrastructure components are a model of how stormwater improvements can help protect and enhance our public spaces with beauty, performance, and wildlife diversity. These investments support regional efforts to reduce sewer overflows, flooding, and erosion problems in the larger Four Mile Run Watershed.  Green infrastructure elements of this project represent an investment in a multi-agency Panther Hollow Watershed Restoration Plan. The pond is protected from flooding by providing a bypass pipe that routes Phipps Run around, rather than under, the pond. On the hillside above, a large meadow is planted with native grasses and terraced to help to absorb and infiltrate stormwater from Schenley Drive. A smaller rain garden south of the pond catches water from the hillside, and also serves as an overflow route for Phipps Run during large storms, directing water around the monument and pond.  The pond is filled with water from Phipps Run.

Night lighting is a key component of the restoration project, with installation of aesthetic lighting for the monument using modern energy-efficient technologies, and designed by Hilbish McGee Lighting Design. Spotlighting of the monument sculpture is accomplished by inground LED uplights.  These small “pucks” are placed in the pavement at the base of the sculptures, with a greater concentration at the interior of the exedra, and fewer lights placed along the rear walls of the monument.  Uplights have been placed beneath new granite benches at the entrance to the pond to cast light across the pavement. The tree canopy surrounding the pond is subtly lit by LED luminaires mounted on discreet black posts.

The public is invited to the Thursday, October 6, 2016 10a.m. cake-cutting re-dedication ceremony, featuring a custom-designed cake by Vanilla Pastry

Media inquiries – including media tours or high-resolution images - please contact Scott Roller, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Senior Manager Communications and Creative at sroller@pittsburghparks.org, or 412.682.7275 ex 220 or 412.275.0023.