Public Opinion -

Words From The Citizens


Dir Sir, Please leave the BUHL PLANETARIUM alone. We would like to preserve the building and its contents. We would like to see the doors re-opened. Let's keep this historic building alive!

Sincerely, Armando B. Pgh, PA

February 27, 2001

To whom it may concern,
As a former employee of the original Buhl Planetarium and manager at the Carnegie Science Center, I would like to express my concerns that the Buhl planetarium building continue to be used as a science museum, preferably, as one related to space and the education of youth. Although I have had years of personal involvement in the daily operations of the Buhl science center as an employee, the rewards of the professional relationships, friendships and instruction/sharing with students and their families has long outlasted the paychecks I received. I shared in the excitement of the design, construction and management of the new Carnegie science center and continue to be a supporter of its endeavors, which continue to build on the original concepts set forth by the initial staff. The new science center has done things on a larger and more esthetic scale than that of the Buhl. However, due to its ability to process larger audiences and present more special effect based shows in all but one of the theaters, the educationally based format of presenting to an audience that bonds with a presenter and shares in the learning experience is lost. Yes, there are both sentimental and emotional ties to those trying to save the Buhl science center an preserve the integrity of Pittsburgh's original place where the public could experience science with the assistance of presenters but the fact that the one of the cities most architecturally unique buildings still has the capability to provide unique science related experiences to all visitors not provided anywhere else in the city-as it was originally intended. The Zeiss is now the last of its kind yet think about how many people travel to see a light house, with a single light rotating through the darkness and have but a memory in the daylight. Buhl's Ziess has shown the same light as the lighthouse, accompanied with a soundtrack and live presenter giving visitors and education and experience for a lifetime. Although I feel that the newer technology used by the Carnegie could be effective with the proper integration of education and effects, the Buhl offers a multitude of possibilities for more in-depth education through seminars, classes, space museum and even space camp opportunities which would utilize the buildings existing planetarium, telescope, classrooms and exhibition areas. It is my hope that consideration by the city to utilize the Buhl for science education is given the due attention it deserves for Pittsburgh's and future generations sake.

Christopher R. Rochester, Pa

(Author is responding to the article: "The Sky is not Falling" by Charles Rosenblum, Pittsburgh City Paper July 10, 2002 issue.)

Dear Save The Buhl,

Having for many years received magazines on historical preservation, and read them, and visited many places where restoration is really happening, it seems to the non-specialist that there are two broad categories of how historical preservation can be wrought, put in two words: time or money.

The money angle is what Radzilowicz (Planetarium Director at the Carnegie Science Center) refers to. Yes, you can hire a firm specializing in historical preservation. They will do a good job, real pro, and they charge a lot. If you have the money, they are the best bet.

But a large number of historical preservation projects are possible with low funds, but with highly dedicated volunteer time. The volunteers work long hours, and carefully research the methods of preserving their genre. Many successful old observatory restorations were done this way, at minimum cost. Airplanes are restored at Beaver Airport in this fashion and go from junk to airworthy aircraft. I've visited there many times. Streetcars are restored similarly in Arden, PA (Washington County). I've visited there many times and have gotten students involved. No professional restoration company was used. The job is as good as if one had been. Even better in some cases.

In Akron, the volunteers of the Lighter than Air Society collect and restore old components of zeppelins, using spare parts they create themselves in machine shops. Anyone who thinks that large sums of money are required for competent restoration work should visit their shops in the old Goodyear factory. I have visited there together with writer and friend Bill Hall.

And look at the Duquesne Incline: another example of real historical restoration with volunteer sweat and time. Glenn (Glenn Walsh is Director of another preservation organization known as: "The Friends of Zeiss") does have some volunteer commitments, but maybe not enough. I myself cannot put in the sort of time required. So there is some teeth in Potter's (Chris Potter, Editor of the City Paper) claim, although he does not distinguish between the two types of restoration work that are possible.

Before either type can be used, it is needed to have access and a commitment to the site. This requires an attitude change on the part of the city and its machinators.

I reject the argument that the Zeiss cannot be restored. Further, it is very likely a lie that all the specs for the Zeiss Model II were destroyed in World War II, since Zeiss Model II's existed elsewhere. Restoration work does not require spare parts, since spare parts are machined in lathes operated by volunteer workers.

Obviously, Radozilwitz has never restored antique cars. In fact, these sort of statements cast doubt if Radzilowicz ever restored anything or has any competence in the field or even (as I did) read magazines about restoration or (as I did) visited places where restoration is happening for real. I am led to wonder who is really blowing hot air, Glenn Walsh (as Potter asserts) or Radzilowicz. But the statements about "the Zeiss can't be restored to operability under any circumstances" are what one would expect from a dogmatic synchophant of the Anti-museum movement, which seeks to destroy real history and replace it with Chucky Cheese type operations and call it a museum. Except for the submarine, I am at a loss to recall one historical thing at the Carnegie Science Center. Can you?

Go to the Beaver County airport, or to the Arden Streetcar museum, or to the Duquesne Incline. There you will see historical restoration at work for real, at real museums.

Francis G. G.
Kent State University

Dear Save the Buhl,

I wholly agree with Francis G. G. position, many of these same thoughts occurred to me when I read the Radzilowicz piece. ("The Sky is not Falling" by Charles Rosenblum, Pittsburgh City Paper July 10, 2002 issue.) These specious arguments are almost silly when one really considers what they boil down to- The Zeiss cannot be restored, or cannot be restored short of costing the natural debt. Ridiculous! Further, although the author lays into the preservationists for not fully quantifying costs (which may be difficult in any case) or for not having "workable plans" he does not himself supply any convincing data of counter-arguments to substantiate his view.

I really find it to be a disgusting argument to cite Mayor Murphy's previous desire to raze Buhl for the sake of parking, as a reason one should support those who promulgate lukewarm plans for the "preservation" of the Zeiss. This vignette if anything illustrates Mr. Murphy's limited vision and possible lack of intelligence (yes, I am very unimpressed by him), and if I use an analogy, it is like saying that we should be grateful for those "humane Nazis" in WW II who only wanted to sterilize and confine Jews in concentration camps rather that killing them.

I also find myself utterly disgusted at the attitude prevalent in this country that we should destroy any "old thing" for the sake of immediate perceived "progress". This is the overall attitude driving why the Children's Museum just absolutely has to progress in the manner currently planned. Thankfully, somehow, by luck and a few visionary people, we still have the Fort Pitt Blockhouse, and the exposed Music Bastion of Fort Pitt. But gee, couldn't we enhance the parking situation in the gateway Center area if we just plowed all this stuff level? Better not say that too loud - Murphy may get an idea!

Ken G. Monroeville, PA

Please consider this letter our request to 'SAVE THE BUHL PLANETARIUM'. It is an important part of Pittsburgh and an icon of education. The uniqueness and history of Buhl is precious and irreplaceable. Therefore, we plead for the re-opening of the Buhl and it's original purpose-a Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. Sincerely,

William and Geraldine K.
Hopwood, PA 15445

My name is Lee
First let me tell you a little about myself.
I have been a volunteer all my life.

When WQED first started, I was a volunteer cameraman, stagehand and control room operator. After that, I volunteered at the BUHL PLANETARIUM and INSTITUTE of POPULAR SCIENCE. At that time they were starting their volunteer program, and I became the first volunteer for the Buhl, and latter both my wife and two boys also volunteered there and both boys became paid staff as a result of their volunteering.

And as a matter of fact I was awarded Volunteer of the Year from Vectors of Pittsburgh a few years later for work at the BUHL where I did planetarium demonstrations, helped run the Discovery Lab, did outreach programs and ran the trains at the Miniature Railroad and Village.

At the present time I volunteer at the PENNSYLVANIA TROLLEY MUSEUM at Washington, Pa where I help restore, maintain, and drive antique trolleys. Many of the trolleys in their collection are the ONLY operable trolley of its type in the world. Consequently, these trolleys are considered priceless artifacts found nowhere else.

And so it is with the BUHL PLANETARIUM, and especially the Zeiss Model II Planetarium Projector and the Siderostat Telescope. The Zeiss II projector is the only functional one of its type left in the World, and the Siderostat telescope, is one of only two in existence. To make them inoperable or destroy these pieces of equipment and the building that houses them should be considered criminal, in my opinion. For they to are to be considered priceless.

While being on the cutting edge of technology is good, we should not just discard what is older, yet still functional.

Look at me-I'm old-but I still work!

Thank you for your time and interest in this matter.

Lee. B. M. Jr.
Swissvale, PA

For: Mr. David Bergholz, Executive Director
The George Gund Foundation
1845 Guildhall Building
45 Prospect Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44115

From: Timm Barczy, Director
Save The Buhl
Box 431
Pittsburgh, PA 15230

Dear Mr. Burgholz,

I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirit. I am writing to convey my concurrence of your opinion presented in the July 14, 2002 issue of the Post-Gazette.

It may further interest you to know that a number of the Foundations mentioned in the article have pledged equally large sums to the local Children's Museum expansion project without the imposition of their "moral will". The fact that this project involves the defacement of the original Buhl Planetarium's historical architecture seems to be of little consequence. (The interior work will result in further defacement and the dispossession of globally unique scientific rarities.)

Is financing the destruction of history to create a facility of tenuous educational value of greater significance than the enlightenment of children? It appears clear that the Foundation answer is "Yes" in this scenario.

Perhaps the loss of this money is a veiled blessing for the children of Pittsburgh. Perhaps the schools would be wise to court money from Foundations that are uninterested in the ostentatious, far less magisterial, and without moral conflict. (Most Foundations were created by honorable souls. Perhaps it would be wise for Foundation Boards to remind themselves of their purpose by periodically reading the original Charter set forth by those who created and drafted them.) This is my hope.

Keep the faith, and may you use your position for incomparable good.

With regard,

Timm Barczy



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