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August 29, 1996

Heinz Chapel landscaping changes begin

A combination of safety, aesthetics and economics has prompted the Office of Facilities Management to remove shrubbery from around Heinz Memorial Chapel.

Once the shrubbery has been removed and work completed on the disabled-access project on the Fifth Avenue side of the chapel, the area will be landscaped with ornamental ground cover.

"At this point, we're looking at some type of ivy around the base or maybe some kind of shrubbery-type holly," said Senior Grounds Manager Ed Gruber. "But that probably won't be until next spring." The shrubs were removed because they had begun attracting vagrants who are leaving behind litter and other debris. Facilities Management also was concerned that the shrubs could be used as hiding places by criminals.

In addition to safety, upkeep of the shrubs had become expensive. Gruber estimates that it takes 48-50 hours a summer to trim shrubbery around Heinz Chapel and on the Cathedral of Learning grounds.

Aesthetically, removal of shrubbery for the disabled-access project has destroyed the balance of the landscaping around the chapel, while the growth of the shrubs had hidden some of the architectural beauty of the building. "Architects have looked at it and said there are really wonderful lines along the bottom of the building that we're kind of missing because of the fact the shrubs have grown up over them," Gruber said.

Reducing the size of the shrubs was not an option, according to Gruber, because all of the vegetation would have had to be removed and nothing would have been left but bare branches.

The increasing size of shrubbery around the Cathedral of Learning also has been taking away from the beauty of that building, Gruber noted, and then added: "At some point, we're going to have to remove all the shrubs up and down the steps." –

-Mike Sajna

Filed under: Feature,Volume 29 Issue 1

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