Phipps recommends:
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood



As a sculptor, Dee Briggs works primarily with carbon and Cor-ten steel, aluminum, bronze and concrete. She is currently constructing a large-scale, ceiling mounted sculpture for the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL). Featuring highly ordered geometric forms which will cascade through all three floors of the CSL atrium, the installation will create an unexpected rhythmic space containing limitless perceptual contradictions: three-dimensional patterns that are at once familiar and foreign, heavy forms that imply weightlessness, and delightful spatial experiences. We took a few minutes with Dee to discuss this exciting new installation, which visitors can expect to see this summer.

How did you first become interested in sculpting?  

In 1999, while in graduate school studying architecture, I was asked to explore building materials at a human scale using my hands – that was really the beginning.

What mediums do you work in?  

I’m interested in all materials but tend toward material used in the building industry, like steel, aluminum and concrete.  

Where do you get the inspiration for your sculptures?  

It depends on the type of work. You can pretty neatly divide my work into formal/spatial or social/political. The formal/spatial work is inspired to a large degree by geometry and this is how I would describe the piece I’m making for the CSL atrium. The social/political work is always inspired by the situation or context.

Can you describe the concept of the piece you are creating for the CSL?

The ideas, or concepts, I have been dealing with and exploring in my work are based in mathematics, architecture and experience. I am particularly interested in geometry, symmetry and rhythm – line, plane and volume – visual perception and spatial understanding.

Much of my work to date has grown out of a specific obsession with chirality (a property of asymmetry), or handedness. This is the governing principle in the CSL sculpture. Three-dimensional objects that are chiral do not have an internal plane of symmetry and can be mirrored three dimensionally, but the left and right cannot be superimposed. Chirality is a very common characteristic in many areas of chemistry and biology. It describes parts (left and right) of the human body, like our hands. Using very simple geometric forms – in this case circles – I apply this more complex operation of symmetry and create the components and compositions of my work.

The CSL project is site specific, incorporating elements of light and movement, allowing me to create a dialogue with the architectural context and a powerful human experience as the work becomes experiential as visitors move up and down the atrium staircase.

What impact do you hope your piece has on CSL visitors?

I hope that it will excite and intrigue them and encourage visitors of all ages to think about nature’s many complex systems. 

Photo © Natalia Gomez

Other Featured Exhibits & Events

Winter Light Garden
and Flower Show
Nov. 28, 2014 – Jan. 11, 2015;
Winter Light Garden open evenings 5 – 11 p.m.*
Take a walk in our Winter Wonderland as we bring to life one of the most beloved carols of all time. With glowing evergreens, festive poinsettias, illuminated glass and our stunning outdoor Winter Light Garden, Phipps will sparkle and shine like never before this holiday season.
*Weather permitting
Garden Railroad
A unique twist on the traditional Garden Railroad, this year's display takes you back in time to the California Gold Rush — complete with water features, interactive buttons for children to push, and miniature living plants.
Candlelight Evenings
Nov. 28, 2014 – Jan. 11, 2015*
Extended Hours: Open until 11 p.m.
Winter Flower Show is even more enchanting at night – a time when glowing candles light your way and live music fills the air. 
*Note: Phipps will close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 24 and reopen at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 26.
Santa Visits
Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 21, 2014
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Bring the kids, or the entire family, to pose for a photo with Santa: It’s a perfect way to get into the spirit of the season and share a special memory with your holiday mailing list! Santa Visits are free with Phipps admission.
BETA Art Tours
First and third Saturdays, December 2014
Next Tour Dec. 20, 2014
11 a.m. – noon
Discover the BETA Project, a new collection of art at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes designed to enhance and restore the bonds between people and the natural world. Tours are free for members; however, space is limited and reservations are required by the Thursday prior to each tour date. To reserve, please contact us at 412/622-6915, ext. 6505 or
Family Fun Days
Dec. 26 – 30, 2014
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Featuring a variety of engaging educational activities, all free with the price of admission, these special days at the Conservatory are filled with adventure and fun.
New Year's Eve Family Celebration
Dec. 31, 2014
6 – 9 p.m.
At this family-friendly event, featuring a variety of activities for children, we will welcome 2015 with an early countdown at 8:45 p.m. so that everyone can join in the fun.
Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show
Jan. 17 – March 1, 2015
Chase away the winter blues with the spectacular sight of orchid specimens arranged in beds and baskets, and see unique selections from our permanent collection of tropical bonsai.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Next Meeting February 2015
6 p.m., with networking and refreshments at 5:30 p.m.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network of creative minds meeting monthly to discuss strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action. Meetings are free to attend; advance RSVP is required. Join the conversation!
Party in the Tropics
Select Fridays
Next Party Feb. 13, 2015
7 – 11 p.m.
Ages 21+
Gather your friends and get ready to dine, drink and dance the night away at Phipps! Make our paradise your own as you indulge in sweet and savory morsels, taste unique cocktails, and dance to the beats of a live DJ in our Tropical Forest Conservatory. Entry is free with Conservatory admission.
Hothouse Happy Hours
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015
6 – 8 p.m.
Join us on Feb. 19 as we partner with the Pittsburgh Urban Magnetic Project (PUMP) to kick off Hothouse Happy Hours, a series of events for young professionals, featuring specialty cocktails, beer and wine, inspired bites and dynamic special guests.
Tropical Forest India
Now Open
Explore our new exhibit showcasing one of the most botanically rich regions of the world. Highlights include an Ayurvedic healing garden, spice and tea market displays, a stunning temple facade on Special Events Hall, and more!
Romero the Corpse Flower
Turns Over a New Leaf
Last year, he wowed thousands with his inimitable odor, and this year, he’s back with an amazing new look. After 10 dormant months, Romero has produced an enormous leaf to collect energy for his next big bloom. Visit the Tropical Forest Conservatory to see his transformation firsthand.