Penn and Seventh

The Journey

From my dorm to Penn and Seventh it took a single, 25 minute bus ride and a few blocks of walking. When first boarding the bus around 4:30 pm, inbound, at Morewood and Forbes, it was packed with no room for sitting and a number of people standing. As the bus ride continued through downtown, majority of the student aged riders got off. By the time I made it to my stop, there were only a few people still left sitting in the bus. Upon first getting off the bus, I felt a sense of uneasiness. I saw a number of homeless or hostile looking pedestrians. The buildings surrounding me were mostly grey or brown toned, like a typical business area in the city. I was in downtown Pittsburgh. I walked a few blocks to the final destination.

First Impression (8/30)

As I first entered the intersection of Penn and Seventh, I noticed a change in the street material and scenery. Instead of having a typical black cement road, the street was made of red bricks and compared to the busy, large intersection a block away, this one was much smaller and quieter. In the distance I also noticed a view of a bridge. Immediately after, I also noticed that the intersection seemed split into four parts, it had four very distinct corners.

Agnes R. Katz Plaza

The first corner of the intersection to catch my eye was a plaza. During my visit, there was a free jazz band performance and a large crowd of people (various ages, races, class) gathered around in portable chairs listening.

The plaza included rows of neatly trimmed and planted trees, orderly benches, sculptures and a tall, central water fountain. Right next to the plaza was a theater with two police men standing at the entrance.

Flower Garden

The second corner consisted of a neat garden with blossom trees, green trees and wall-climbing ivy. A cement path winded through the trees and plants. After inspecting closer, I noticed that the blossom trees were artificial.

Benedum Center

The third corner was a corner of a large theater/ concert hall. On on edge was the main entrance to the theater and at the other edge was an old, run down lightup sign.

Parking Lot

The fourth corner was a parking lot. A very typical cement parking lot with a black metal fence surrounding it and neat plants decorating it. At the very corner of the parking lot was a sign that read “The Pittsburgh Agreement”. In the background of the parking lot you could see grey and brown multistory office buildings.


As a whole, the intersection made me feel a sense of revival. The buildings had bright, solid colors and everything seemed fairly new. At the same time, there was a certain artificial feel to the intersection. It seemed as though a big effort was made to reconstruct this small section of downtown Pittsburgh and to bring more art and culture back into the city. The jazz music was playing, the fancy new theater was in its background and the fake blossoms and perfectly cut trees were stuck in as embellishments.The intersection as a whole was well kept. There were a few construction signs and loud buses passing through every so often and you were aware of the contrasting heavy traffic and business district nearby.


The crowd of people watching the jazz performance seemed like a diverse combination. There were families, friends and locals all of different races, ages, classes, etc. Within the entire intersection there was also a number of different people passing by. There were people in business attire speed walking to their next destination and joggers in pairs running by covered in sweat. There were also a handful of beggars and homeless people hanging out and asking for spare change.

Second Visit (8/31)

When visiting a second time around 5 pm, the intersection was still bustling with people and traffic. During this visit there was no jazz performance and no music to give the intersection an artistic, cultural feel. However, there still was a lively feeling with many people passing through and relaxing in the plaza. It seemed more real.

Without a huge crowd of people filling the plaza, I was able to view the art and sculptures much more clearly. In the center of the plaza was a tall water fountain, a mountain with multiple layers of rock. Surrounding the water fountain were some smaller sculptures that resembled eyes. Each variating slightly and some with room for people to sit.

What I want to portray

The intersection of Penn and Seventh is located within the main downtown of Pittsburgh. It’s surrounding area consists of tall business buildings and heavy traffic. In my relief of the intersection, I want to focus on the unique traits that separate this small area of downtown from the rest. To start off, this area has much more plant life and shrubbery. It also has a very cosmetic look, as if all the plants and buildings are carefully placed and trimmed to a certain shape. There is an abundance of foot traffic, as well as people standing around or sitting around relaxing.

This image showcases a number of characteristics of the Penn and Seventh intersection. The tall buildings and car traffic embody the ideal picture of a downtown business district. However, the high amount of foot traffic and plants and shrubbery illustrate a more cosmetic, lively intersection. The photo combines the social, artificial vibes of the plaza with the more commercial, industrial city environment.

Relief #1

For the first draft I simplified all the shapes and took out small details such as people, building entrances, and traffic barriers. The plants were layered to create depth and put a little emphasis on it. The overall layout and size of the piece are equal to that of the photo print out (5.375" x 9.5").

I used the technique of using the light table to trace shapes from the image onto the white bristol paper. Then, I would cut the shapes and then glue everything together with elmers glue.

Relief #2

For draft two I added back some details into the silhouettes of the plants (bushes and tree), the buildings, and the people on the sidewalk. I felt that the first draft was overly simplified and did not well portray the intersection because of the amibiguous shapes. I also changed the overall dimensions to 6" x 8".

For this draft, I used a different technique. Instead of tracing the shapes onto the paper, I printed a copy of the image and cut the image apart. I then took those pieces and used them as templates to cut the shapes out of the bristol paper. This technique was much cleaner, leaving much less pencil and smudge marks. I also changed to using a glue stick instead.

Relief #3

On this draft I used four different tones of grey to make up the composition. Since the difference in tone between the medium dark and the darkest grey tone is a big shift, I decided to use the darkest grey only on specific items like the plants, cars, and canopy. I also added tiny dark grey accents along the window buildings to tie everything together.


For the final relief, I replaced the darkest grey tone with another colored dark tone (green). The only edits I made was replacing the smaller car with white. I felt that keeping it in green would be distracting for the composition. Currently, the green is heavily concentrated in the bottom right corner with a little green canopy and green rim on the building to balance it out.

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