Agnes R. Katz Plaza

Designers: Daniel Urban Kiley, Michael Graves, Louise Bourgeois | City: Pittsburgh, PA | Project Type: public art, urban plaza
Date Visited: 09.13.12
Location: 655 Penn Ave, Theater Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Size: 23,000 sq. ft (0.5 acre)
Cost: $4 million
Official Opening Date: 1999

Katz Plaza sometimes goes by a different nickname–“Eyeball Park.” Out of context, the moniker brings up strange, somewhat morbid and creepy imagery. Fortunately, however, Pittsburgh’s “Eyeball Park” is just the opposite. Opened in 1999, Katz Plaza is one of Pittsburgh’s most recognizable, beloved landscapes.

Katz Plaza was created by the collaborative effort of artist Louise Bourgeois, landscape architect Daniel Urban Kiley, architect Michael Graves and the non-profit Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Louise Bourgeois, the artist commissioned for the park, created three pairs of large eyeball-shaped granite benches that surround the pyramid-like, terraced fountain centerpiece. The steep, staggered sculpture drew inspiration from Pittsburgh’s hilly topography.

Kiley defined the urban refuge’s spatial layout using 32 linden trees planted closely together into a hedge-like box that encloses the space and surrounds the 25-foot high bronze sculptural fountain..

Katz Plaza functions both as an arts and cultural gathering space as well as a transportation hub. A busy bus stop located on the edge of the park ensures constant foot traffic around the park. A restaurant took advantage of the beautiful bosque of linden trees and set up outdoor dining next door. Other visitors to the park are likely drawn in by the whimsical eyeball-shaped seating, which are strategically faced so that the backs of the seats–the eyeballs–are always watching the street.

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