PG NewsPG delivery
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Home Page
PG News: Nation and World, Region and State, Neighborhoods, Business, Sports, Health and Science, Magazine, Forum
Sports: Headlines, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Collegiate, Scholastic
Lifestyle: Columnists, Food, Homes, Restaurants, Gardening, Travel, SEEN, Consumer, Pets
Arts and Entertainment: Movies, TV, Music, Books, Crossword, Lottery
Photo Journal: Post-Gazette photos
AP Wire: News and sports from the Associated Press
Business: Business: Business and Technology News, Personal Business, Consumer, Interact, Stock Quotes, PG Benchmarks, PG on Wheels
Classifieds: Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Celebrations and other Post-Gazette Classifieds
Web Extras: Marketplace, Bridal, Headlines by Email, Postcards
Weather: AccuWeather Forecast, Conditions, National Weather, Almanac
Health & Science: Health, Science and Environment
Search: Search by keyword or date
PG Store: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merchandise
PG Delivery: Home Delivery, Back Copies, Mail Subscriptions


Headlines by E-mail

Headlines Region & State Neighborhoods Business
Sports Health & Science Magazine Forum

History Center to add open, airy space

Thursday, July 12, 2001

By Caroline Abels, Post-Gazette Cultural Arts Writer

Correction/Clarification: (Published July 12, 2001) Yesterday's story on the expansion of the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center misstated Louis D. Astorino Sr.'s position with the organization. Astorino, a prominent Pittsburgh architect, is a trustee, but is not a member of the board's executive committee.

The Senator John Heinz Regional History Center wants to mount large, interactive history exhibitions that will draw thousands more visitors from around the country.

But to do so, it needs such basic things as high ceilings and unobstructed floor space.

The Strip District museum doesn't have such architectural amenities because of its location in an old ice warehouse that has ceilings only 8 to 10 feet high and areas encumbered by old beams and a quirky original design.

Artist's rendering of proposed addition to the Senator John Heinz Regional History Center

So the history center yesterday launched a $26.4 million capital campaign that, in part, will fund an addition to the building. The addition's first floor will have 24-foot-high ceilings and large areas of open space, allowing homegrown exhibitions and imported ones from the Smithsonian Institution to be staged there.

The architectural firm that drew up preliminary plans for the addition is LDA/L. D. Astorino Cos. Its chairman, Louis D. Astorino Sr., is also vice president of the history center's board.

Martin G. McGuinn, president of the history center's board of trustees, said the board was "sensitive to the issue of potential conflict of interest" when it hired the company of one of its trustees without making a formal request-for-proposal.

But McGuinn, who is chairman of Mellon Financial Corp., said the board felt comfortable with its choice because Astorino's firm charged the history center much less than it normally would -- although the museum wouldn't disclose those figures -- and because Astorino disclosed his position with the company to the board, in keeping with the center's ethics policy.

Astorino said yesterday he abstains when the board votes on the addition project. He also said he had resigned from the board's facilities committee within the last couple of weeks.

Andrew Masich, right, president and CEO of The Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional Center, and Martin McQuinn, campaign chairman for the History Center, talk with reporters after announcing expansion plans yesterday at the center in the Strip District. (Lake Fong, Post-Gazette)

The $16 million addition will also house the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, an education center, a theater, and visible storage space. Dapper Dan Charities, which oversees the Pittsburgh Sports Hall of Fame, has had discussions with the history center about housing a hall of fame there.

"Right now, our exhibitions don't have the critical mass it takes to draw people from very far," Andrew E. Masich, president and chief executive officer of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, said yesterday. "This will allow us to create exhibitions that have a lot of gravity."

Of the remainder of the capital campaign funds, $3.5 million will pay for blockbuster exhibitions and hall of fame exhibitions, $6 million will go into the center's endowment, now at $14 million, and $900,000 will fund transitional operating support. About $8 million has already been raised.

Construction on the addition, which will attach to the west end of the main building on Smallman Street, will begin next year and is expected to be finished by 2004.

bottom navigation bar Terms of Use  Privacy Policy