Citation of Merit
The Advocacy Citation of Merit is given for the Virgil Cantini Mosaics, commissioned in 1964 by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. In 2018, Cantini's long-lasting achievement was threatened when the City of Pittsburgh announced they would implement the I-579 "Cap" Project, a new 3-acre park connecting the Lower Hill District to Downtown that called for filling in the pedestrian underpass containing and potentially reinstalling only 3 of Cantini's 28 panels. Through the Section 106 process, the Pittsburgh preservation community responded that this was unacceptable and that the entire mosaic should be preserved. A Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form was prepared for the Mosaic Tunnel and, following coordination and consultation among the Federal Highway Administration, PennDOT, PA State Historic Preservation Office, and the consulting parties, the mosaic was determined eligible for listing in the National Register. The Cap Project was subsequently redesigned to allow for the careful removal, storage, and reinstallation of the mosaic panels. As of November 2019, all 28-panels of the mosaic have been removed, inventoried and crated. The City of Pittsburgh has reviewed responses to an RFP for a consultant to identify new locations in Pittsburgh where the entire mosaic can be installed and restored to its original affect. Learn more about the project here.
“It is yet another example of the need to recognize and document significant works of midcentury artists. Residents and visitors to Pittsburgh will be all the more enriched thanks to the advocacy efforts to save the Cantini murals.”
Project Team Leads:
Camille Otto (Federal Highway Administration, Pennsylvania Division, Environmental Program Manager), William Callahan (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, State Historic Preservation Office, Community Preservation Coordinator), Barbara Frederick, (PHMC SHPO, Section Chief, Historic Building Project Reviews), David Anthony (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Cultural Resources Management Program, Architectural Historian), Tony Cavalline (City of Pittsburgh, Department of City Planning, Public Art & Civic Design / Arts, Culture, and History Specialist)
Jesse Belfast (architectural historian), Matthew Craig (Young Preservationists Association), Matthew Falcone (Preservation Pittsburgh), Lisa Haabestad (Pfaffmann+Associates), Sallyann Kluz (Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council), Melissa E. Marinaro (Senator John Heinz History Center), Rob Pfaffmann (Pfaffmann+Associates), Sarah Quinn (City of Pittsburgh, Historic Review Commission), Brittany Reilly (Design Nation, Preservation Pittsburgh), Laura Ricketts (architectural historian), Jeff Slack (Pfaffmann+Associates, Time & Place, LLC), Will Zavala (Pittsburgh Filmmakers/PCA), and with special thanks to Lisa Cantini-Seguin (daughter of Virgil Cantini)
Initial Conservation Consultant:
Marcin Pikus and Christina L. Simms of McKay Lodge Fine Art Conservation (artwork assessment, removal, and crating)