Art Commission FAQ
I was told that I need Art Commission approval before I am granted a permit. What do I do now?
Your next step is to check the Art Commission schedule to determine the date of the meeting at which you wish to present. For your application to appear before the Commission, it must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month, three weeks prior to the upcoming Commission meeting you plan to attend. If you have missed this deadline, you must wait until the next month's hearing to speak with the Commission.
When are the hearings?
Art Commission meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month. See the Schedule tab to the right for a list of Art Commission hearings.
What is art that the Commission would review?
Art, in this case. includes paintings, mural decorations, statues, bas-reliefs, sculptures, monuments, fountains, arches, ornamental gateways and other structures or items of a permanent and fixed character, that are intended for ornament or commemoration, both interior, and exterior. Among its' purposes are also to secure the free light, air, and prospect of the streets and open spaces of the City, and to prevent the obstruction of the same by unsightly structures though lawfully erected.
My project does not include any art. Why was I told that I need to gain Art Commission approval?
The Commission also oversees the design of any municipal building, bridge, approach, lamp, ornamental gate, fence, or other structure erected or to be erected upon land belonging to the city, or other public places under its control. However, this section shall not apply to bridges costing less than $500,000, nor to buildings costing less than $200,000.
Also, you may not remove or reorder any structure that is currently located on public property without Art Commission approval. This includes structures, trees, or fixtures.
What is the difference between Conceptual approval and Final approval?
How far along you are in planning your project determines what type of approval you should seek. A conceptual review is mandatory unless Public Art & Civic Design staff determine that the project complies with all of the guidelines set forth for a final review. The purpose of the initial (conceptual) review is to allow the project to receive feedback, suggestions, and/or design critique before a substantial investment of time or finances have gone into final design and/or construction-level documents and engineering.
If you are unsure about any aspect of your project, you may contact the City's Public Art and Civic Design Manager at any time. You may also request an informal audience with the Commission called a Courtesy Review, by filling out an application to appear before the Commission at the next upcoming Hearing. Please review Art Commission Guidelines for more information.
I want to host a festival or event that is art-related and on public property. How can I do this?
If your event is temporary, you will not need to appear before the Art Commission and can speak with zoning about obtaining the proper permits. As all events and projects are unique, please contact the Zoning Office with any questions. You may also find more information about events on the City of Pittsburgh Special Events page.
I'm constructing a new artwork or structure on private property and I'd like some advice on how to improve the design. Can I consult with the Art Commission?
You can request a Courtesy Review with the Art Commission at no cost to you. You will need to still submit the above application form and all related materials three weeks before the hearing date that you would like to attend.
What is a Development Activities Meeting and when do I have to have one?
If the site of your project is within the boundaries of a Registered Community Organization (RCO), the Pittsburgh Administrative Code requires that a Development Activities Meeting be held at least 30 days before the Hearing. You can identify areas covered by RCOs at gis.pittsburghpa.gov/rco. The full guidelines for Development Activities Meetings can be found at https://pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/dev-activities-meeting.
Who serves on the Art Commission and how are they elected?
The Commissioners are elected by the Mayor and serve without compensation. Ex-officio members include the Director of the Department of Public Works and the Director of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. Members of the commission represent different disciplines that contribute to the quality of civic design and the public realm. The commission consists of practicing artists, architects, landscape architects, and other professionals with related design practices.