Friends of the Zeiss Statement
P.O. Box 1041 Pittsburgh City Council:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A. 2003 May 19
Electronic Mail: <
Internet Web Site:
< http://www.friendsofthezeiss.org >
Good morning, I am Glenn A.
Walsh of 633
Mount Lebanon. I am Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss.
Last week, The Carnegie
Science Center discharged the French architect for the proposed expansion of
the Science Center building. They claim that this architect’s plans were
too expensive. Yet, it was The Carnegie that chose these plans through a design
competition, to provide a striking “signature” architectural wonder for the Science Center. How could this plan have NOT been very expensive?
In the Memoranda of
Understanding that the Science Center signed last year, they promised the City that the
Zeiss II Projector and the Mercator’s Projection World Map would be reassembled
by 2005; the Siderostat Telescope would be reinstalled with the completion of
the expansion project. Friends of the Zeiss questioned this ambitious timetable
from the beginning. The whole idea that they could raise $90 million in current
economic times, when they could only raise $40 million for the original Science Center building in 1991, clearly shows that the Science Center expansion project has been a pipe dream from the
Not only will the Science Center expansion timetable not be met, it is now
questionable whether ANY expansion of the Science Center will take place in the foreseeable future!
Without expansion of the Science Center the historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 10-inch
Sidersotat-type Refractor Telescope, and Mercator’s Projection Map of the World
will remain dismantled indefinitely—possibly forever! AND, the dismantled parts
of these historic pieces of Pittsburgh
history will remain in storage in the Science Center warehouse—across the street from the Science Center. This one-floor and basement warehouse is in a flood
plain—a flood plain that has been flooded within the last 31 years !
The entire area, around Three
Rivers Stadium, was flooded in June of 1972, due to the remnants of Hurricane
Agnes. Despite all of the flood control measures taken in the 1950s as part of Renaissance
I, this flood did happen—and similar flooding can happen again!
Yes, the Science Center has insured the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment,
as required by the City. But, it is unclear whether this general liability
insurance policy includes flood insurance.
And, if flooding completely
destroys these artifacts, how do you replace a historic 1939 Zeiss II
Planetarium Projector? The answer is that you cannot; this history would be
Last week, we also learned
that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania MAY NOT fund the proposed expansion project of the
Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. Now, the future of this project is in question.
To assure the preservation of
this historic equipment and artifacts, owned by the people of Pittsburgh, it is time to RETURN the Zeiss II Projector,
Siderostat Telescope, and Mercator’s Projection World Map to the Buhl
The Memoranda of
Understanding clearly states that, “with reasonable advance written notice,”
the City “may request return” of the equipment and artifacts, and then the Science Center “is responsible for safely removing and transporting”
the equipment and artifacts “back to a location designated by the City.” We,
respectfully, ask that the City of Pittsburgh invoke this clause to remove this historic City
property from harms way and back to a site where they can be used and
appreciated by the public.
Without their return to the
Buhl Planetarium building, these historic artifacts may remain in storage
forever—or until destroyed by floodwaters.