Rome Mural: Building community pride half a world away


A two-year collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University Architecture Professor Douglas Cooper, Italian Professor Gianna Vairo and the City of Rome’s Uffico per la Citta Storica (Office for the Historic City) has produced an engaging mural. Now housed in the primary lecture hall at the University of Rome’s School of Oriental Studies, the mural depicts the history behind the emerging multi-ethnic character of the surrounding urban neighborhood of Esquilino.

Those who spend time on the Pittsburgh campus undoubtedly have seen another of Cooper’s representations of an urban area: the mural in the rotunda of the University Center. That mural depicts Pittsburgh, combining the city’s history, Carnegie Mellon’s future and the twists and hills so common to local topography.

Funding through the Roy A. Hunt, Olivetti and Bitner foundations made the Rome project possible. Students spent a month interviewing Esquilino locals, gathering personal histories that would become part of the design. Cooper artistically engaged the most difficult challenge of the physical space by incorporating four large ventilation grates into vertical columns within the mural’s composition.


Mural panels were prepared in a Pittsburgh studio. Cooper collaborated with an interdisciplinary group of students to complete the painting. Animator Gregoire Picher oversaw work on the many figures depicted in the mural, and apprentice student Patty Clark worked with Cooper to create the mural’s architectural structure. Other student participants included Carla Collado, Ross Christy, Lara Hoke, and Ashok Kanagasundram.


Mural panels were packed and shipped to Rome for installation in August 2005.

Carnegie Mural Gives Hope for the Future

Bold colors depict the rebirth of a flood-ravaged town

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, artist Gregg Valley (A’86) designed and painted a mural commemorating the resilience of the recently flood-ravaged town of Carnegie, a Pittsburgh suburb. Funded by the Sprout Public Art Program, the painting measures 70’ x 25’. It depicts a mythological phoenix rising not from ashes, but from floodwaters, surrounded by beloved local landmarks. It was dedicated in September on the first anniversary of the flood that devastated the area.

“I wanted to commemorate the flood in such a way that it would give people hope for the future,” Valley said.

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