Lancaster Jazzes Up with Design

Lancaster Piano 1

I'm sure a lot of us remember the famous parading cows in Chicago in the summer of 1999. The painted bovines sparked a nation-wide trend of cross-city temporary art installations, ranging from painted chairs to tricked-out wood ponies. This summer, Lancaster City, Pa., improves upon this tradition with the best public art display I've heard of yet: 20 custom-designed pianos dot the city and provide residents with free music access and arts education. The Society for Design joins the AIA Central Pennsylvania Chapter in crafting a unique piano shelter to generate publicity for this Keys for the City display.

The AIA Central Pennsylvania Chapter invited members to compete by designing a piano shelter to shade one of the pianos, which was sponsored by the corporate office of Auntie Anne's Pretzels (mmm…). The city hopes that the custom-designed pianos will spark creativity and community amongst inhabitants of Lancaster City, and raise awareness about other area arts and music possibilities. The display shelter also offers an opportunity for public arts education in the area of design and architecture

The contest garnered 14 design entries. Local firm Tippetts/Weaver Architects recently hosted a review and critique of the 14 projects, naming AIA member Christopher Dawson as the winner. His design was cited for its clarity and constructability. Time and resources for the construction have been generously donated by area firms and contractors, and Dawson’s winning design will be officially installed in Lancaster City today (July 14).  AIA architects, associates, and interns will participate in today's installation.

The exhibit will run all summer, from late May to September. It has generated lots of local buzz, as well as a Youtube video. Check it out and let us know what you think—Is Dawson’s piano shelter design a harmonic hit, or barely a one-hit wonder?

Lancaster Piano 2

–Lillian Civantos

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