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November 12, 2015

Digital plaza to debut at corner of Forbes, S. Bouquet

The clock is counting down to 6 p.m. Nov. 16, the moment of the “grand reveal” of the 21st Century Digital Plaza.

The outdoor digital art gallery, on the University-owned plaza at the corner of Forbes Avenue and South Bouquet Street, will display curated multimedia art exhibits on a wall-mounted digital canvas and community information on a large LED screen.

Coordinated by the Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID), the $700,000 project is part of Innovation Oakland, an initiative to build a digital district showcasing Oakland’s innovation culture.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, in a prepared statement, said: “Oakland has always been a dynamic neighborhood, and in order to attract and retain the people who make this neighborhood the vibrant place it is, we need to create great public spaces.

“Our public spaces tell a story about who we are and who we want to be as a city. I’m proud to support Innovation Oakland as it showcases Oakland’s incredible value to the region, and as it pushes the envelope of what a great public space can be.”

Plaza multimedia manager Martin Potoczny of LUXE Creative will oversee the images, video, text and sound that will combine to create the plaza’s ambiance.

Murray Horne of Pittsburgh’s Wood Street Galleries will curate the plaza’s art installations, which will feature local, national and international artists.

The outdoor digital gallery is the first of its kind, said Georgia Petropoulos, OBID executive director.

The plaza’s art exhibits will change every few weeks, similar to museum exhibits, she said. The first exhibition is by Canadian artist Matthew Biederman.

Petropoulos said the plaza’s message board will be reserved for community-oriented information such as events, performances, public safety and transit-oriented messages. No advertising will be permitted.

OBID will coordinate the content, which also will be reviewed by the University, she said.

The University is allowing the use of the plaza land through renewable two-year leases. In addition, Pitt and UPMC provided project and construction management support. Staff included Ron Leibow of Facilities Management and Jim Schmitt of UPMC.

“We couldn’t have done this without Pitt and UPMC’s support,” Petropoulos said.

The project has been downsized from an original plan that included a rain garden and “smart” light posts that would have brought Wi-Fi to the plaza. Wi-Fi is a possibility in the future, she said.

Petropoulos said the section of South Bouquet Street that adjoins the plaza will be closed to traffic during the Nov. 16 unveiling to accommodate the expected crowds.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher is scheduled to speak at the event. Other invitees include Mayor Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and representatives from Pittsburgh City Council, UPMC and area universities.


For additional details on Innovation Oakland, visit

—Kimberly K. Barlow   

The digital plaza at the corner of Forbes Avenue and South Bouquet Street.

The digital plaza at the corner of Forbes Avenue and South Bouquet Street.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 48 Issue 6

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