Mellon Park Fountain

The Mellon Park Fountain, sculpted by Edmond Amateis (1927-28) stood behind the R.B. Mellon mansion on 5th Ave in Pittsburgh, PA until it was torn down in 1941 to create Mellon Park.  The fountain is still there but in recent years, it was noticed that the lower fountain basin was sinking on the plaza side, causing a pronounced lean in the central granite fountain column and water from the lower basin to splash preferentially on the plaza side.  A project was devised to dismantle the fountain, demolish the existing foundation to bedrock, pour a new foundation, and restore and reconstruct the fountain properly, while making necessary upgrades to the fountain vault.  

The fountain was dismantled piece by piece, with each piece being documented for storage and reconstruction.  A crane was employed to hoist the enormous stone parts over the garden wall and onto palettes to be moved into secure storage.  All granite blocks and limestone facings were removed, and the fountain was stripped down to the concrete basin core.  Detailed measurements were taken of the core for purposes of repouring the foundation and reconstructing the fountain.  

A track-hoe with a hydraulic ram was used to demolish the fountain core and foundation down 4 feet to a floating footing on a shale bed. The shale tested negative for pyritic shale by a local testing firm.  A new foundation was poured over rebar matting on this footing and tied-into the adjacent patio. Water inlet pipes, water returns, drains and electrical wiring conduit were stubbed out in-situ on the foundation pad, to be embedded in the lower basin floor.

The upper and lower basin cores were formed, filled with concrete and then clad with granite cladding.   PVC pipes bringing water to the column spouts were extended up from the upper basin. The cleaned and patched stone fountain parts were lifted by crane back into the walled garden for reassembly.  The central granite column was reconstructed, and the cherubs were reattached. Many years ago, a lone cherub fell from the column and broke.  The pieces of the body were found intact for eventual reconstruction, but the head went missing. The cherub was reconstructed and reattached, and a replacement head was cast from a similar, adjacent cherub.  

New filters, valves, pipes and tubing enabled unrestricted water flow and allowed for fine-tuning of spout flow for optimal performance.  New submersible LED lights, water level sensors and drains were installed in the basin.  And finally, the concrete basin was coated with an industrial coating formulated for immersion. 

Client:  Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy