Landslide2008: Marvels of Modernism

Photo © Eric W. Miller


The greatest threat to Lake Elizabeth, as identified in the master plan, stems from “age, abuse, benign neglect and deferred maintenance.”



Since its completion it has been embellished, drained, used for storage of scrap metal, reconfigured, rebuilt, and repaired. Well-intentioned repairs have been made for decades without regard to the original design intent. Today, concrete spalling is evident throughout the lake. While this does not present a structural problem, it threatens the Modernist design intent of the water feature’s carefully articulated edge. The same holds true for the bridges which, though structurally sound, are marked with exposed steel rebar and similar degradation. The pump pit for the lake has been welded shut and rendered useless, leaving no re-circulation system, and the mechanical system is in need of extensive repair. The lake’s two drain systems have been covered with a generic steel mesh. Because the City of Pittsburgh, the lake’s owner, is in financial distress, funding for the Lake’s repair and preservation must come from other sources.

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List of Marvels

Boston City Hall Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

Estates Drive Reservoir
Oakland, California

Heritage Plaza
Heritage Park
Fort Worth, Texas

Kaiser Roof Garden
Kaiser Center
Oakland, California

Lake Elizabeth
Allegheny Commons
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Manhattan Square Park
Rochester, New York

Mill Creek Canyon

Kent, Washington

Miller Garden
Columbus, Indiana

El Monte
Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

Pacific Science
Center Courtyard

Seattle, Washington

San Francisco, California

Peavey Plaza
Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota

education partners
Garden DesignGeorge Eastman House
Additional Sponsors

American Society of Landscape Architects’ Indiana, Pennsylvania/Delaware, Minnesota, Northern California, Texas, Upstate New York, and Washington Chapters • Astorino • Charles Butt • Design Within Reach • Topher Delaney • Sandy Donnell & Justin Faggioli • Fathom • Tom Fox • Hillman Foundation • Indianapolis Museum of Art • Lorraine Osmundson • Richard T. Murphy • National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast, Southwest, and Western Offices- with funds from the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation of New York, Dodge Jones Foundation Intervention Fund, and Eastern Massachusetts Preservation Fund • James Richards • Seibert & Rice • Diana & Bruce Shuman • Ann Stack • SWA Group • TBG Partners • Michal and Jeffrey William Tincup • Unilock Inc. • The Woltz Charitable Trust