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Mellon Park

Landscape Management

Mellon Park
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The R. B. Mellon estate was developed from 1911 to the 1930s, under the influences of Vitale & Geiffert, Gilmore Clarke, Olmsted Brothers, landscape architects and Alden & Harlow, architects, with exceptional Samuel Yellin ironwork and Edmond Amateis sculptures. It became Mellon Park in the 1940s. In 1999 when the project team began the Mellon Park Preservation & Management Plan, recent vandalism had raised an alarm and the former estate landscape showed serious decline. The planning process recommended a detailed rehabilitation treatment that responded to daily and event uses. The presence of Phipps Garden Place and the Pittsburgh Arts Center in Mellon Park , degraded conditions, park user needs, maintainability issues and local foundation interest all directed to landscape renewal. Phased recapture addressed circulation, perimeter control, tree care and specific garden areas. An important component of the planning project was a park management structure and strategy investigation. Heritage Landscapes conducted research on current Mellon Park management and several park management organizations. An expert panel from Prospect Park , Brooklyn NY and the Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy assessed findings addressing organization, operations, services, and facilities of Mellon Park . Using case study models from Central and Prospect Parks, Hartford Riverfront Recapture, Louisville Olmsted Parks, Louisville Waterfront Park , and Boston Commons, the team identified areas of strengths and weaknesses of the current management structure and operational procedures. A multi-day work session with experts, stakeholders and city staff, partnership and management strategies for Mellon Park were explored. One related outcome was a shift in DPW organization with a dedicated park crew for the district.

An implementation strategy for Mellon Park arose with a partnership between the city and local foundations to renew specific park features. This public-private cooperative effort was tested successfully in two implementation projects. Both projects divided responsibilities to coordinate public-funded work by the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works and City on-call contractors and private-funded work by ironwork and stonework fabricators and installers. Heritage Landscapes provided the construction coordination, documents, drawings and project oversight. Projects addressing the perimeter fence, paths, Renaissance Garden limestone balustrades, steps and sandstone paving have been completed.

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Phipps Conservatory, support R.K. Mellon Foundation, Allegheny Foundation and Pittsburgh DPW.

Fountain Stonework & Paving 2006; Path Design & Paving 2005; Renaissance Garden Terrace & Steps Masonry 2004; Perimeter Iron Fence & Stonework 2003; Mellon Park Preservation & Management Plan, 2001.

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners with Barry Hannegan, Charles E. Beveridge, PhD, historians; Susan Rademacher, Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Tupper Thomas, Prospect Park Alliance, Management Expertise; Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, User Intercept Survey.