The 3 Rivers 2nd Nature project, (3R2N) directed by artists/researchers Tim Collins and Reiko Goto, addressed the meaning, form, and function of public space and nature in Allegheny County, PA. This region encompasses the former steel industry capital of the United States—Pittsburgh PA. 3R2N focused upon the three major rivers; the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio Rivers, as well as the streams and subwatersheds. This five-year project revisited questions of nature and post-industrial public space first addressed on the Nine Mile Run Greenway Project. The focus of the work was research to benefit the public realm, applied as strategic knowledge with accompanying outreach programs intended to enable creative public advocacy and change.
The 3R2N project team, a collaboration of geologists, botanists, architects, planners, historians, regulatory experts, and Geographic Information systems (GIS) specialists, developed strategic knowledge and broad community discussions about rivers and streams. The strategic knowledge helped them understand what was happening in and along Pittsburgh’s rivers and streams, and how they could either help or hinder the water’s recovery. The project team developed rigorous field methods to acquire this knowledge, gathering scientific data that lead to a spatial understanding of the existing river conditions in terms of water quality and back conditions. They then conducted a map analysis of each subject area to understand the forces affecting water quality, botany, bio-diversity, public access, use and back conditions. The project team also looked at historical material to understand the rivers and the range of human activities that have influenced their changes over time. Using these tools, 3R2N sought to identify the potential for preservation and restoration of natural and cultural systems.
Can artists working as cultural agents affect the public policies and private economic programs that mark and define urban places and ecosystems? Can we develop a public realm advocacy that address the perception, meaning and form of nature, while expanding the creative act beyond the authorship of the artist?
3 Rivers 2nd Nature was supported by The Pittsburgh Foundation, 3 River Wet Weather Demonstration Program (using funds from the Heinz Endowments), Altria Foundation, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
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