The owner’s grandfather, the great modernist landscape architect John Ormsbee Simonds, wrote of an urban square, “A city square is for people. It must attract and accommodate [people]. It is a meeting place. It is a passing-through place. It is a waiting-for and greeting place. It is a stay-awhile and relaxing place. It must be human in scale and human in its appeal”.
Surrounded by two residences, the owner’s 1903 studio building, and a new four-story commercial office and gallery, Superball Court is an island of urban open space in Pittsburgh’s dense Bloomfield neighborhood. The challenges inherent in the design of this small courtyard encompassed logistics of accessibility, egress, trash removal and program. This is above all a landscape for the owner and adjacent buildings’ inhabitants to relax in, meet people, and traverse amongst plants and trees.
The design weaves together themes of historic construction detail (brickwork), paving pattern inspiration from Simonds & Simonds’ Pittsburgh MCM projects, and the owner’s own visual and performance art research (past projects on the Super Ball, “Most Fantastic Ball Ever Created By Science!”) and investigation into the history of the Harlequin as representation of human condition (behaviorally and through visual representation of pattern).
Equitable Plaza, downtown Pittsburgh PA, Built 1959, Simonds & Simonds Landscape Architects
Owner’s Writing Excerpt: “Epilogue: Harlequin and the Fractured Man”
1903 Pittsburgh Map Showing the Site
Mary Barensfeld Architecture