With four locations throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA) plays a critical role in providing access to art for rural communities. After acquiring a series of steel sculptures by the late Pittsburgh artist Josepha Filkosky into its permanent collection, the Ligonier Valley branch of SAMA asked the Urban Design Build Studio to help with the design and planning of a new sculpture garden that would incorporate the large, modern pieces into an adjacent half-acre parcel to the south of the museum. The sculptures, painted in vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds and reaching up to twelve feet tall, would need to be strategically situated in order to enhance, rather than compete with, the existing beauty of the natural landscape.
To address this challenge, the sculptures were conceived of as natural forms to be discovered in the landscape as if by chance. Space is given between each piece so that each can be approached and experienced on its own. A pathway is used to link the sculptures and orchestrate a structured procession. Two steel benches also designed by Filkosky are positioned along the path at key moments of reflection or vista.
The design process for the garden utilized methods focusing on quick, informed decision-making in order to accommodate the project’s modest budget. After preliminary research and schematic studies, a design charrette with the client was used to quickly test placement of the sculptures on-site via full-scale replicas made from insulation foam.
Construction documents developed by the UDBS were used by consultants for construction of the concrete foundation pads and installation of the sculptures during Phase I of implementation. Beginning in Spring 2018, Phase II will involve painting the sculptures to reflect their original colors and integration of the pathway.
Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA) - Ligonier Valley
John Folan, UDBS Director
Alise Kuwahara Day, UDBS Fellow