Illuminated Water Cube highlights Pittsburgh’s new 8th Street Park

The Water Cube is a functioning art installation, dispensing water to the park’s visitors.

December 13, 2016 |

Photo courtesy of GBBN.

An open patch of grass surrounded on three sides by high-rises and by a multi-story parking garage on the fourth side, was transformed into the 8th Street Park in downtown Pittsburgh.

As is the case with many public parks, the focal point of the 8th Street Park is an art installation, taking the form of a large, illuminated cube. However, where this park’s installation differs from most, is that it is a functional piece of art. On each of the cubes four outward facing sides is a space for dispensing water, both still and sparkling, for free. The hope is that the Cube will encourage people to use reusable water bottles and lessen the stress on the environment caused by plastic, disposable bottles. Pulsing LED lights make the Cube easy to spot after dark.

In addition to helping to eliminate the use of plastic bottles, a new pervious paver system was added to the space to allow more water to naturally percolate into the ground instead of making its way into the City’s storm water lines.

The Cube is made of glass and measures 5.5 feet on all sides. It sits atop an 18-inch cylindrical stainless steel base. Other elements of the park include steel and aluminum benches and bike racks. Additionally, abundant planting and mounding of the earth along the side bordering the parking lot helps to obscure the view of the structure and the cars.

The 2,000-sf project, which was designed by GBBN Architects, was awarded an AIA Ohio Merit Award.

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