June 2, 2005
To the Council of the City of Pittsburgh (Ladies and Gentlemen):
I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my support towards the protection of the former Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building (now the Children’s Museum), located on the city’s North Side, as its status is brought before the City of Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission. Recently, I have published a study entitled, Theaters of Time and Space: American Planetaria, 1930–1970 (Rutgers University Press, 2005), whose second chapter describes the creation of the Planetarium and Science Center, through the vision of former city councilman George E. Evans, and the series of appropriations made possible from the Buhl Foundation. The activities of its personnel, along with several innovations pertaining to the Planetarium’s design, including the Siderostat telescope, are examined during the formative period (1930–1946). In addition, the six sculptures on the building’s exterior that were fashioned by New York artist Sidney Waugh (1904-1963) are described in the book’s Epilogue.
The factors given above adequately demonstrate to me that there is significant historic value attached to this structure and that its continued preservation by the City of Pittsburgh is entirely warranted. As the original site of America’s fifth Zeiss planetaria, the former Buhl Science Center building can continue to attract and inspire new audiences, as was the desire of Charles F. Lewis, first director of the Buhl Foundation.
Jordan D. Marché II, Ph.D.