Friends of the Zeiss
P.O. Box 1041
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.
Electronic Mail: < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Internet Web Site: < http://www.friendsofthezeiss.org >
2002 July 17
Dear Editor of The Pittsburgh City Paper:
This letter regards the "Writing on the Walls" commentary of July 10 titled, "The Sky is Not Falling," by Charles Rosenblum.
I am glad to hear that Mr. Rosenblum was invited to the Children's Museum's Charette in January of 2000, regarding their proposed expansion project into the Buhl Planetarium. Although I have been actively seeking a new use for the Buhl Planetarium building since 1994(including the conducting of tours of the building for School District representatives and for members of an Italian-American organization), I did not receive an invitation to the Charette.
There was no publicity or general announcement about this community-planning meeting. I was lucky; a friend tipped me-off about the meeting about a half-week before it occurred. And, when I specifically telephoned Children's Museum Executive Director Jane Werner, requesting permission to attend the Charette, my request was DENIED! A lack of space, for one more person, was the excuse given to me by Ms. Werner!
So, Mr. Rosenblum, the Charette was NOT "open-door." And, in fact, no member of the community favoring re-use of the Zeiss projector or its preservation, even as an exhibit in the original building, was permitted to participate in any part of the planning process, even after we requested that participation.
Friends of the Zeiss recognizes that years of neglect by The Carnegie Science Center will mean that the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment cannot be operated without some maintenance and restoration. However, there is no reason that equipment that operated in 1994 cannot operate again.
Friends of the Zeiss is willing to raise the funds to have this happen. And, we have been in contact with a technician who completely disassembled and reassembled a Zeiss II projector in Chicago; the expertise does exist! However, no foundation will give us money to restore this City-owned equipment, unless we have the support of the City.
Regarding the possible razing of the Buhl Planetarium building: although it was mentioned, it was not "widely discussed." I attended a meeting regarding the future of Buhl Planetarium, in the Mayor's Office in June of 1994. Many local officials including City Councilman Dan Onorato, Carnegie Institute President Ellsworth Brown, and RAD Board member Gerald Voros attended this meeting.
The Mayor's Executive Secretary, Tom Cox, who chaired the meeting, started the meeting by asking if the Buhl Planetarium building should be torn-down. I immediately responded, "Heavens no!!!" No one in the room disagreed with me. That ended any thought of demolishing Buhl Planetarium.
Glenn A. Walsh