Blog Entry 1: Public Pedagogy Meet & Greet

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For my first post in my new blog for AED 813, I will locate and describe a public sphere of influence in the human-built environment.  Here it goes...

When I thought about what I would blog about, I looked at some key words in that topic. "Public" and "human"  jumped out at me.  I am a sports fan.  I cheer for the black and gold of Pittsburgh, PA.  It's nice that we have good teams (minus the Buccos, but I still love 'em) to fill those top notch new stadiums. 

The days of sharing a field with another sport is long gone in the 'Burgh.  Have you ever been to PNC Park?  Even though our team is struggling, I go sometimes just for the atmosphere.  The views of the city's architecture from your seat are breathtaking.  I remember my first trip there 10 years ago.  I couldn't stop looking at the buildings across the river in the outfield.  I look for little things I never have seen before.  The colors, the shapes, the textures.  Of course I am there for the ball game too, but I sometimes just can't help but walk around and take some photographs of the bridges, buildings and large commemorative statues that surround the stadium.

Heinz Field, home of the Steelers and Pitt Football, has another nice feature that is different from the cookie cutter stadium that was 3-Rivers back in the day.  I like the open end zone where you can still see some of the rivers, the hills, the Incline, and the Point.  I like that you can stand on the open rotundas and get a glimpse of the surroundings while watching the game.  And if you ever get a chance to sit in club level seats (thanks Father in law, Brian for the tickets), it is like a hotel lounge back in the lobby away from the seats.  Carpeted areas, with leather couches, glass windows.  Again, all designed well. 

And then of course there is the newest of the 3.  The new Consol Energy Center. Home of the Pens. I got to go there for the first time last week.  I got there early to see the arena.  I particularly like the beams that held the structure of the building together.  I like that they were not covered up over Center Ice. The beams made it nice to hang all the banners on.  The design of the building is much nicer than the good 'ol Mellon Arena. Though that arena in itself is unique with it's "igloo" shaped design, it was time to build again. I actually stood at the new arena in the last period and had a great view of the ice...and to top it all off, the food stands were just a short distance away, complete with flat panel TV's that acted as a menu!  Mario must have got a good deal on flat panel HDTV's because there are a lot of them.  The new arena even has some artwork in it.  Mario's foundation created a large mural of tiny pictures of people in fan gear and for a donation you could have your picture put into a mural that created a larger picture in the lobby.  There was also a large goalie mask commissioned by an artist that is a replica of what our goalie wears. Maybe not exact, but pretty darn cool and it is in display in the building as well.

I guess what I am trying to say is that the architecture of these buildings are special in their own way.  And what better way to watch your teams play than in an inviting, spacious, unique atmosphere?

11 Comments

I know the exact views of which you speak. During my undergrad, we would frequent Pirate games at PNC Park. I would get sidetracked during the often-slow games and find myself staring at the buildings. As you said, PNC Park is a far removal from Three Rivers Stadium. Another amazing view, as I'm sure you are aware, can be found from Mount Washington looking down at the city.

I went to my first Pens game about two years ago when they were still at the Melon Arena (formerly Civic Arena) and made it on the jumbo tron for my friend's hat. It was quite the experience being inside igloo that you referenced.

I have only been to Heinz Field once for a Pitt game, but it also was a great architectural (and football) experience.

These new structures have helped to redefine Pittsburgh's teams in a new way.

Steve, your attentive perceptions presented in this blog, presumable from your memory, provides details of things that I wonder if others would notice. You can learn about yourself from what you pay attention to, and what you learn from your environment.

Can you see the Rachel Carson Bridge in Pittsburgh from the stadium? It is also known as the Ninth Street Bridge, which spans the Allegheny River in Downtown Pittsburgh. The bridge is named for the environmentalist, Rachel Carson, a Pittsburgh native. As you probably know, Rachel Carson was a biologist, writer, ecologist and her book, Silent Spring (1962) is noted as starting the environmental movement (and facilitated the ban of the pesticide DDT in the US in 1972).

Rachel Carson wrote: “One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I’d never see it again?” I ask: What can youth see today that adults cannot, what will they not be able to see in their future that adults have seen? Karen

Karen,
don't think you can "see" her bridge from the field. I know you can see the "Roberto Clemente" bridge and then next to that, is the "Andy Warhol" I think. Her's would be the next one down. To be honest with you, I did not know who Rachel Carson was nor did I know there was a bridge named after her. Thanks for the info.

James,
yes, you are correct in that the views from Mt. Washington are amazing as well. I have only been up there twice I think. A whole different perspective of the architecture in The Burgh from up there. I actually did a project with my first graders this year where the focus was on the skyline of the Steel City. We took a look at a few pics of the buildings to get a good idea of what the silhouette of the buildings look like.

Not only have I never been to PNC Park, but I've never been to Pittsburgh! Crazy, huh. But I'm from the other side of our state and claim Philly as my "hometown," though the suburbs is more accurate.

I tried my best to picture what you were saying, but the last stadium I was in might be the Colosseum in 2007! Haha. That tells you something about me. As far as professional sports, I've been to the Vet (no longer in existence) and a minor league baseball stadium or two. Also seen a concert or two at one of the other sports arenas in Philly, but all many years ago.

That said, I'm a huge fan of the architecture of the Bird's Nest and Soccer City. I've seen the Bird's Nest in person, but never been inside.

So what does that say about me? That I'm not a very big sports fan, that I love architecture and art history, and that I live in the international community.

thought I'd share this picture of my family in front of "my" stadium...

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=34157641&l=a89e559e47&id=26600503

Hi Steven,

Your writing really allowed me to visualize the stadiums, thank you for sharing such vivid imagery! I'd like to know what you think of Beaver Stadium (have you been before?) and how it compares to the professional fields. I'm also interested to know your thoughts on spectatorship and what it means to have huge fields (not to mention money) devoted to watching others play sports. Do you think there's an emphasis on glamorizing violence (football/hockey)? How does baseball (which doesn't, to my knowledge, include much violence, but certainly competition) fit in?

-March

As a Pittsburgh fan myself, I really enjoyed your post. I am also very jealous of your experiences in the stadiums and arena. You provide such vivid and rich detail in your post that I felt I was back in Pittsburgh. Architecture has such an interesting tie to memory, emotion, and a person's history. As demonstrated in your blog, architecture often means much more than a place to gather. Places are tied to memories that we carry with us throughout life and impact the way we think of these places.

So I think most of us had some sort of connection with a place and it's surroundings... I liked Stephenie's comments on her views of malls, March's point that there is always that same feel there, even in China and Laura's NYC experience that followed on along that trail. I found it interesting that I wrote on the differences that build up an experience, but more often than not now, there are more similarities no matter where you go.. same feel, same smell, etc that we might all share in experience or relate to very closely. My question is, is this good or bad?

Stephanie,
Thanks for sharing the photo. I was blown away by the Birds Nest when I first saw it on TV. It looked huge and definitely looks like a birds nest. Philly, huh? Nothing better than a Flyers/Pens hockey game. And I am a little jealous of your baseball team. If only the Buccos could compete, their stadium would be even better. I was in Philly once. I ran up the steps to the Rocky statue and took a picture with my hands raised like he did in the movie. ha ha.

L. March,
Sorry to say, but I have never seen a game inside Beaver Stadium. I have driven to PSU main once and I can remember see the stadium from a few miles away on a long stretch of highway. It stuck out like a sore thumb on the horizon! 110,000 on game day, right? That is about 50,000 more than a typical NFL stadium. As for having huge fields for professional sports, sometimes if is too big and you are too far away from the field, you may be better off just staying at home and watching on TV. Unless of course it was the recent Winter Classic at Heinz Field where the NHL turned a football field into a hockey rink. It is a rare occasion that something like that happens. I guess being there for the sake of saying you were there is cool, but in something like that fans are so far away from the field it's hard to see the players. Just my opinion. Violence in sports such as hockey fights are unique in that what other sport can you fight in without being ejected or fined or suspended? But I do agree that a violent cheap shot on another player is just plain unsportsmanlike. In baseball, most of the violence is in the form of retaliation.

Laura,
Glad you liked the post. Most of my childhood memories are memorable because I can visualize what the architecture looked like. I remember the baseball fields of little league and high school. I remember family vacation resorts/surroundings. Funny how I can remember those, but can't remember what I did yesterday.

So I think most of us had some sort of connection with a place and it's surroundings... I liked Stephenie's comments on her views of malls, March's point that there is always that same feel there, even in China and Laura's NYC experience that followed on along that trail. I found it interesting that I wrote on the differences that build up an experience, but more often than not now, there are more similarities no matter where you go.. same feel, same smell, etc that we might all share in experience or relate to very closely. My question is, is this good or bad?

The steps to the Rocky statue---you mean the ART MUSEUM!?! actually, my first trip to those steps was with an exchange group in 8th grade, and purely for the photo op. it wasn't until 11th grade that i made it around the building to the entrance of the art museum.

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