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Pittsburgh City Council approves attempt to save Downtown mosaic | TribLIVE.com
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Pittsburgh City Council approves attempt to save Downtown mosaic

Tribune-Review
| Tuesday, September 18, 2018 1:36 p.m
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Segments of Virgil Cantini’s mosaic is seen along the walls of a pedestrian tunnel Downtown on Sept. 13, 2018.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
The signature of Virgil Cantini, is seen along with pieces of a mosaic that lines the walls of a pedestrian tunnel Downtown on Sept. 13, 2018.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Segments of Virgil Cantini’s mosaic is seen along the walls of a pedestrian tunnel Downtown on Sept. 13, 2018.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously approved an $8,859 contract Tuesday with an Ohio art conservator to determine if a historic mosaic owned by the city can be safely removed from a Downtown pedestrian tunnel before the tunnel is demolished.

City officials and preservationists are hopeful that McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory Inc. of Oberlin, Ohio, can remove the abstract, 28-panel mosaic created in 1964 by late Pittsburgh artist Virgil Cantini.

Under the contract, McKay Lodge will photograph the mosaic for documentation, conduct a test to see if one of the panels can be removed and prepare a feasibility report.

Council approved it without discussion.

The artwork graces a pedestrian tunnel linking Chatham Street and Seventh Avenue behind the U.S. Steel Building in Pittsburgh’s Downtown. The city intends to demolish the tunnel during construction of a $26.4 million cap over the Crosstown Expressway and three-acre park designed to link Downtown and the Lower Hill District. Construction is schedule to start later this year.

Pittsburgh originally intended to save only several pieces of the mosaic, consisting of colored glass and glazed tile set in concrete. Local preservationists stepped in last year and began a public crusade to preserve and remove the entire artwork for public display in another city location.

City officials agreed to attempt removing is after the state determined it is a historic city resource.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobbauder.

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