Friends of the Zeiss                                 Statement Before the Board of the

P.O. Box 1041                                                              Historic Review Commission of

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                                 Pittsburgh:

Telephone: 412-561-7876                                                               2003 June 4

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Internet Web Site: < >


Good afternoon, I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mount Lebanon. I am Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss.


Last month we learned three things:


1)       The Carnegie Science Center discharged the French architect for the proposed expansion of the Science Center building.

2)       The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania MAY NOT fund the proposed expansion project of the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum.

3)       Despite the fact that the Children’s Museum has not raised enough money to complete their proposed expansion project, on Friday evening Friends of the Zeiss learned that the Children’s Museum has completely GUTTED the interiors of BOTH the Planetarium Theater and Astronomical Observatory.  The only history remaining is the interior dome and the projector’s Westinghouse “Worm-Gear” Elevator.


The Science Center no longer has an expansion project. And the future of the Children’s Museum expansion project is definitely in jeopardy. Until State funding is firmed-up, there is no urgency for the approvals sought today by the Children’s Museum.


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 gone forever!


Even if the Science Center does complete a modest expansion in the next ten years or more, the scaled-down project will omit much of what was originally proposed. And, reassembly of the historic Buhl Planetarium artifacts will likely not be included in any reconfigured project. Since the 1995 attempt to sell the Zeiss Projector and Siderostat Telescope to out-of-state interests, it has been clear that historic artifacts rate a very low priority with The Carnegie Science Center.


And, it is cost-prohibitive for any other organization to construct new facilities to house these historic instruments.


The only viable option, now, is to return the Zeiss II Projector, Siderostat Telescope, and Mercator's Projection World Map to the Buhl Planetarium building. The cost to restore the infrastructure DESTROYED BY THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM is extremely modest compared to the cost of building new facilities for these historic instruments.


The only other alternative is to allow these historic artifacts to rot in the Science Center's warehouse, until there is a flood and they are totally destroyed.


In general, we oppose connecting the Buhl Planetarium to the old Allegheny Post Office with a modern structure, such as the proposed “Nightlight Building.” We may be able to “live” with this obtrusion, provided that the Children’s Museum withdraws their opposition to the housing of the Zeiss Projector, Siderostat Telescope, and Mercator’s Projection World Map in the Buhl Planetarium building.



Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission Hearing                           2003 June 4                            Page 2 of 2



We do oppose the obliteration or removal of any part of the exterior of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. This includes removal of the Astronomical quote from the Bible, inscribed on the Indiana Limestone on the east exterior wall of the building: “THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE FIRMAMENT SHEWETH HIS HANDIWORK DAY UNTO DAY UTTERETH SPEECH AND NIGHT UNTO NIGHT SHEWETH KNOWLEDGE”




Two years ago, Ms. Jane Werner, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, told Buhl Planetarium supporters, including me, in a special meeting at the Children’s Museum, that the second Astronomical quote from the Bible, on the west exterior wall of the building, would be retained despite the connection with the “Nightlight Building.” She even said that there would be a way for children to touch this inscription!


Hence, we were quite surprised when Ms. Werner, at the Historic Review Commission hearing on March 13 of last year, suggested that keeping the east exterior wall inscription would show a religious preference and may prevent State funding of the project. Would not retaining the west exterior wall inscription, which would end-up inside the expanded museum, have the same result?


Both Astronomical inscriptions, as well as all other inscriptions and statuary on the Buhl Planetarium building, should be kept intact!


Finally, if the Historic Review Commission does choose to approve the proposed “Certificate of Appropriateness, “ we respectfully ask that any such resolution include a statement, to the effect: “This resolution should not be construed to imply the Commission’s approval or disapproval of the proposed changes to the interior of the Buhl Planetarium building.”


We understand that the Historic Review Commission cannot approve or disapprove proposed interior changes to any building. But, the public does not know this. If the public hears that this project is approved by the Historic Review Commission, they will assume that all aspects of the project were approved, not just the exterior changes. Please include such a statement in your resolution, if you choose to award a “Certificate of Appropriateness” to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum for this proposed project.


Thank you.