Unlandmarks Open Call

Open Call for Creative Highlights for the Unlandmarks Map Exhibition

Exhibition: December 3 thru December 30, 2017

Submission Format: Digital Files (to be printed & mounted)

Submission Deadline: November 15, 2017.

Code for Pittsburgh, the city’s civic technology meetup, is building the Unlandmarks Map, a map of now-gone landmarks around the city. The mobile-friendly map will let residents and visitors alike interact with the past, forming a collective memory of things that are gone.

The stories, memories, and histories contained in the map form a Public Domain dataset built by and for the community. Each story is gifted to friends, neighbors, and strangers alike.

This deep dive into memory, nostalgia, and sense of place is an opportunity for the city to reflect on itself, to mine the past for possible futures.

For the month of December, a physical version of the Unlandmarks map will be displayed in the Carnegie Library Main, along with eight community-submitted creative works highlighting the now-gone city.

Code for Pittsburgh is seeking those creative highlights: stories, quotes, photographs, paintings, drawings, sketches, fiction, nonfiction, remembrances, and other creative work related to any specific now-gone landmarks in the city.

Some submission ideas:

  • A series of landscape sketches of a current neighborhood, with the ghostly images of specific former buildings superimposed
  • Interview transcripts of a family-member’s memories of the old Kaufmann’s store Downtown.
  • Three photographs, two journal entries, and a three paragraph writeup describing the personal and social impact of a long-gone music venue.
  • Painted portraits of business-owners displaced by the building of the Civic Arena.
  • A large digital painting of an alternate history present, where the mills never stopped growing, and started growing upwards.
  • A short story / flash fiction which takes place in a now-gone location, as well as a few paragraphs of explanatory text grounding the story in that Unlandmark.
  • A scanned mural of polaroid photos from a long-gone bar.
  • A curated set of newspaper clippings, photographs, and quotes related to the highly political shuttering of a much-loved neighborhood building


  • Submissions must be digital - a zipped folder containing a variety of files and file-formats is fine. Email them to unlandmarks@gmail.com
  • Submissions must be designed to be printed on paper no wider or taller than 20in, and using no more than 1500 sq. inches ( ~ 8 pages of 8.5x11 paper) of paper total. Work chosen for the final slots will be printed and mounted by the Library.
  • Display layout is flexible - we are working with 30in wide mounting bars, which can have wires hung from them, off of which multiple works can be hung. Past exhibitions have seen as many as 30 post-card sized pieces of paper on one bar (5 wires, 6 post-cards hanging in a vertical line from each wire), or as few as a single 20in x 60in poster.
  • Submissions must be your work (or yours to share). This includes historic photographs, which should either be public domain already or must come for your personal (or your relative’s personal) photography.
  • Submissions can include a variety of formats - photographs, prose, digital or scanned media, etc.
  • Digital files submitted will be added to the Public Domain.
  • All submissions should include a separate document or drawing describing how the work is intended to be displayed - a vision for layout.

Submissions must be emailed by November 15 to unlandmarks@gmail.com. Code for Pittsburgh will select eight submissions and work with those submitters to finalize the presentation & printing of each creative highlight. Works will be finalized by November 20th. They will be displayed in the library during December.

What do I get out of this?

Code for Pittsburgh is a public meet-up group, not a non-profit, a company, or a project of such. We have no budget - we don’t really operate with money at all. We operate on gifts, given freely.

All space, time, food, and resources are donated to the group by the community, our local institutions, and by members of the group, in service of a larger vision of Code for Pittsburgh - the vision of a city where technology is used to make public life better.

The Unlandmarks map has a similar ethos - all submitted data goes directly into the public domain. It isn’t really owned by anyone - it is shared. The data which the map is built upon is entirely community-submitted, as are the stories and memories shared about each Unlandmark.

If you choose to create a Creative Highlight and submit it, you’ll be doing so for rewards other than monetary ones. Various good reasons to submit a Creative Highlight:

  • Your highlight of a now-gone landmark will lift that unlandmark up, expanding the number of people in the world who know its story.
  • Interviewing a relative or friend about their memories of the city is deeply rewarding as an activity in its own right. It creates community, and brings you together over a shared love of place. Highlights can serve to honor or remember the people associated with a place too.
  • Your highlight can be in service to your community - a public remembrance and reminder of the great achievements of your neighborhood, industry, or social group, over the city’s history.
  • More than 50,000 patrons are expected to pass through the Carnegie Library Main during December (the month of the exhibit).
  • The deadline is less than a week away - what a perfect time for a flash-project!
  • You and the other submitters will get a chance to meet at special pre-events and post-events around the Opening Reception (early December), the Closing Reception (late December), and the other events we’ll have going on in the space.
  • Your work will be displayed one wall away from the famed Hall of Sculpture in the Carnegie Museum of Art (which shares the building with the Library), which will make for a hell of a story.
  • Previous aspects of this project have gotten quite a lot of local press - this show will presumably as well.

Calendar (watch for updates!)

Nov 8: Call goes out

Nov 15: Submission Deadline

Nov 20: All submissions prepped for printing & finalized (a collaborative back-and-forth between submitters and Code for Pittsburgh)

Dec 3 or 4 (TBD): Opening Reception

Later in December: Closing Reception & work taken down.