More than 1,000 suspended blown-glass orbs now fill a high-ceilinged office lobby in downtown Pittsburgh, transforming the cool corporate high-modernist interior into a showcase for sophisticated and highly contemporary installation art. Jill Reynolds and Dan Spitzer won a $75,000 competition to create the project, which she discussed in an interview with the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet in 2009. The project was officially unveiled earlier this week.
The work references Pittsburgh’s three rivers — the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio — in three separate ways.
First, the orientation of the work is in parallel with the city’s main riverfront area.
- Second, the individual glass orbs are based on advanced study of the behavior of water droplets, for which they collaborated with Bo Gehring, an artist and computer modeling expert with special expertise in three-dimensional complex forms.
- Gehring also assisted with the third reference to the river — the entire sinewy installation that snakes across the ceiling rises and falls in a sequence designed from a sound clip from a famous composition by legendary jazz arranger and Pittsburgh-native Billy Strayhorn. Strayhorn worked closely with Duke Ellington, and did a famous arrangement of Ellington’s “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” which was the basis for the undulating flow of the glass orbs.
The project came about when the owners of 11 Stanwix Street wanted to update the building originally built for the Westinghouse Corporation. The new owners, RexxHall Realty engaged Pittsburgh’s EDGE Studio and the Pittsburgh Glass Center to hold a competition. Reynolds and Spitzer were chosen from 28 applications. More photos of the installed project are available here.