BIG news for downtown Pittsburgh: New York–based Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), West 8 Landscape Architects, and Atelier Ten were tapped by private developers McCormack Baron Salazar and the Pittsburgh Penguins to create a master plan for 28 acres in Pittsburgh's Lower Hill District. Today, those plans were unveiled. The plan will redevelop public space around the erstwhile Civic Arena, build a new public space across from the Consol Energy Center, and dialogue with the city's vertiginous topography to create bike and pedestrian paths that connect the Hill District with Uptown and Downtown. In all, the New Lower Hill Master Plan calls for 1.2 million square feet of residential construction as well as 1.25 million square feet of retail and commercial space. The project is expected to break ground in 2016 and cost an estimated $500 million. “The master plan for the Lower Hill District is created by supplementing the existing street grid with a new network of parks and paths shaped to optimize the sloping hill side for human accessibility for all generations," Bjarke Ingels, BIG's founding partner, explained in a statement. "The paths are turned and twisted to always find a gentle sloping path leading pedestrians and bicyclists comfortably up and down the hillside. The resulting urban fabric combines a green network of effortless circulation with a quirky character reminiscent of a historical downtown. Topography and accessibility merging to create a unique new part of Pittsburgh." Landscape architects West 8 designed terraced parks and walkways informed by granite outcroppings characteristic of the surrounding Allegheny Mountains. Engineers and environmental design consultants at Atelier Ten developed sustainability guidelines that will encourage district heating and cooling, as well a stormwater retention for on-site irrigation. See the gallery for more master plan images and schematic diagrams.
Posts tagged with "Pittsburgh":
In the 1950s, Pittsburgh was the American poster child for a progressive city. Forward-thinking gentrification projects such as the Gateway Center, a five-building office complex, and Allegheny Center, the former hub of downtown Allegheny City, were part of a transformative frenzy of high-rise constructions during the postwar period. From September 12, 2015 – May 2, 2016, the Carnegie Museum of Art is hosting an experimental presentation to untangle the evolution of modern architecture and urban planning in Pittsburgh. Titled HAC Lab Pittsburgh: Imagining the Modern, exhibits include archival materials, an active architecture studio, and a salon-style discussion space for urban planners, architects and residents, which collectively unearth layers of history. The museum’s architects-in-residence, Boston-based studio over,under, highlight the stories of pioneering architecture, disrupted neighborhoods, and the utopian ambitions of public officials and business leaders. Pittsburgh, then a public model for the progressive American city, simultaneously bore the brunt of criticism against postwar gentrification for destroying neighborhoods and displacing communities. Photos, films, drawings, and other ephemera document this perennial chafing between idealism and public discourse and protest. The exhibition zeros in on landmark projects such as East Liberty, the Lower Hill and Oakland, revisiting the work of influential architects the likes of Harrison & Abramovitz, Mitchell & Ritchey, Simonds & Simonds, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). The exhibition also examines unrealized proposals such as those by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Point, located at the tip of Pittsburgh’s “Golden Triangle.” Imagining the Modern is the first in a new series of HAC Labs overseen by Raymund Ryan, curator at the Heinz Architectural Center. Each Lab sees a team of design radicals investigate architecture and planning in Pittsburgh from a historical and contemporary perspective to reflect our changing understanding of architecture and urbanism. In conjunction with the Labs, architecture students at Carnegie Mellon University will investigate the stalled urban revitalization project at Allegheny Center in Fall 2014, examining the sociological, economic and political motivations for urban renewal.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, via their residential developer are set for, in the words of Bjarke Ingels, a "promiscuous hybrid" form of residential housing aimed at bridging the Uptown and Downtown areas of Hill District. The development will occupy a 28-acre plot of land around the former home of the Penguins the Civic Arena. Pittsburgh and the residents of Hill District must be ready for an iconic and maybe even bizarre piece of development, as the Danish firm specializes in the outlandish and obscure. Copenhagen, where the firm started, has become accustomed to Ingels' eccentric works, with some 26 projects having been built there already, but this is Ingels' first foray into a mid-size American city. BIG's Pittsburgh reception remains to be seen as no renderings have yet been released, though it's hard to see it not having a positive impact in the vicinity. The area to be developed, called the Hill District, is in need of rejuvenation and has been for sometime. According to the Post-Gazette, in 2010, over 40 percent of the local population was living below the poverty line but there is positive news as well, development projects in the area are on the rise—a supermarket opened in 2013, ending a more-than-30-year food desert. Quite what BIG will dream up, no one knows. Travis Williams, COO of the Penguins, claims hiring Mr. Ingels is a coup. "It will be something new and unique for Pittsburgh and I think the results are going to be phenomenal," he told the Post-Gazette. Quite what Hill District will make of it however, remains to be seen.
Sketch to Structure Heinz Architectural Center Carnegie Museum of Art Pittsburgh Through May 20, 2015 The concept and visual for Sketch to Structure, an exhibition that has just opened at Pittsburg's Heinz Architectural Center, is so cogent and well thought out it's a wonder no other museum hasn't already staged such a show. The exhibit is curated by Alyssum Skjeie of the Heinz Center and takes the architectural design process and divides it into four discrete sections—concept, collaboration, communication, case studies—each with drawings and renderings taken from the center's own collection. "Concept" begins with loose hand drawings like Richard Neutra's for the Los Angeles County Hall of Records and attempts to highlight how architects think through drawing implements—whether sketching, constructing a rough model, a quick watercolor, or increasingly, using computer models. Then, perhaps the most socially constructed section, "Collaboration," makes clear that architects work in office teams with other designers and with engineers, etc.—a process not recognized enough in exhibitions on architecture. This process is highlighted with drawings from Winold Reiss' four schemes for the Savarin Restaurant at Penn Station in New York City. The third part of the exhibit, "Communication," uses drawings, renderings, and models from the early 20th century to convey, as the curator claims, "a nearly final design." This is a large jump from Collaboration, but perhaps the final section, "Case Studies," clarifies, or brings together, what communication in an architectural practice means in a practical working condition. Case studies, the exhibit asserts, "pieces the parts of this process together, with groupings of models, renderings, drawings, and elevations on seven separate projects, illustrating how the other three exhibition sections work together in the larger design process." It might be argued that this chronological presentation is too linear and that architectural design moves back and forth across these sections, but the exhibition stakes a claim for this process and attempts to highlight it through strong visual examples. The exhibit will feature drawings by Lorcan O'Herlihy, James Wines, and the French firm Jakob + MacFarlane. If only this show were in New York, closer to my home! If your anywhere near the Steel City, go see this exhibition and let us know what you think of the sections.
The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a second batch of cities in its 100 Resilient Cities Challenge. The foundation launched the challenge last year as a way to support resiliency measures in cities around the world. This includes support to hire a Chief Resiliency Officer. One year after the first 32 cities were selected, another 35 have been added to the list, including six in the United States—Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Tulsa. To see the full list, visit the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge website.
With bikeshare launching in Philadelphia next year, Mayor Nutter is taking significant steps toward boosting cycling throughout the city. NewsWorks reported that the mayor recently signed an executive order to create the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board, which will advise him on implementing smart bike policy. This would include "[fostering] volunteer efforts that promote cycling and maintain cycling trails; encourage private sector support of cycling, especially among Philadelphia employers; and promote national and international races in Philadelphia to attract the most elite cyclists to compete in the city." Despite joining the bikeshare game pretty late, Philly routinely ranks as one of the country's most bike-friendly cities. AN recently reported that out of 70 large cities in America, Philadelphia has the 10th highest percentage of residents that commute by bike. Right behind Philadelphia is another Pennsylvania city, Pittsburgh, which is experiencing nothing short of a surge in bike commuting. Using Census Bureau data, the League of American Bicyclists found that bike commuting in the Steel City grew over 400 percent between 2000 and 2013. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wants to build on this, and has made increasing bicycle infrastructure one of his major priorities. "We got into the game late," he recently told Streetsblog, "we did our first three [protected bike lanes] in six months, though. And we're looking to do the first five miles in two years." These new lanes, he added, will become part of a "highway system for bikes." With this new infrastructure, and the city's impending launch of a bikeshare program, Peduto said Pittsburgh will "leapfrog" other cities when it comes to bicycling and livability. "We're not going to be able to settle at just being able to play catchup, we want to catch up and then go ahead," he said. Game on.
After five years and $10 million, Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square has been returned to its mid-century splendor. Dedicated in 1955, the Square served as a modern, green oasis in a city choked by pollution. But only a few decades after opening, the modern masterpiece had fallen into disrepair, its former glory hidden by cracked pavement, broken fountains, pigeons, and empty planters. As Pittsburgh has transformed itself in recent years, so to has Mellon Square. Now, the reborn space is yet another example of the Steel City's promising future. The park's original design is the work of Mitchell & Ritchey and Simonds & Simonds who created a conspicuously geometric space with prominent fountains, planters, benches, and triangle-patterned concrete. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Mellon Square is the first park in America to be built on top of a parking garage. According to the ASLA's Dirt blog, “the intensive, compact Mellon Square design was layered, with three-dimensionally nested planes unfolding to a serene interior of skydome, sunlight, shimmering water, and native forest plants.” In 2008, the American Planning Association named Mellon Square one of its “great spaces.” At the time, though, the park was a dingy version of its former self. “Mellon Square had started to feel a little seedy and maybe even a little unsafe,” said the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy in a video about the space. The renovation, led by Patricia O’Donnell of Heritage Landscapes, changed that. The pavement and fountains were restored, granite walls were cleaned and repointed, thousands of plantings were added, new lighting was installed, and a new terrace was created to expand the square's usable space by 15 percent. To keep the park from falling back into disrepair, $4 million has been secured to cover maintenance and upkeep costs. Above, the Pittsburgh Park Conservancy's video on the history and restoration of Mellon Square.
From its streets to its rivers to its skyline, Pittsburgh is a city in transformation. The Steel City is diversifying its economy, improving its streetscape and becoming a new hub for the creative class. Business Insider has even declared Pittsburgh to be “The Next Hipster Haven." But the transformation has meant more than coffee shops, bike-share, and startups—even though that’s certainly playing a part. As the city changes, though, it’s too easy to ask if Pittsburgh is the “Next [Enter City Here].” Because the “Next Pittsburgh” will not be the “Next Austin,” or even the “Next Portland.” It's shaping up to be something entirely it’s own. Simply put, "The Next Pittsburgh" will be just that. 1. The Tower at PNC Plaza Pittsburgh’s skyline will change dramatically next year as the new 32-story Tower at PNC Plaza marks its place. The financial services company is calling their new Gensler-designed headquarters “the world’s greenest skyrise.” While that’s a bold claim, the glass tower will have a lot more than the typical green fixings. It is expected to surpass LEED Platinum status with its massive solar collector on the roof and a double-skin facade that opens and closes according to the temperature. Also, there will be green roofs, because, obviously. 2. Market Square Installation Following a major renovation in 2010, the city’s Market Square recently unveiled a temporary, public art installation called Congregation. The work is described as “an interactive kinetic video and sound installation designed and choreographed for pedestrian performers.” Essentially, the installation turned the public space into a dynamic public stage. And best of all, it was completely free and open to all ages. While Congregation recently closed, it is part of a new three-year initiative to bring art to the city during those cold, winter months. 3. Produce Terminal Significant changes could be in store for Pittsburgh’s old produce terminal in the city’s vibrant Strip District. What those changes will look like, though, isn’t clear just yet. A local developer had planned to renovate two-thirds of the 1,500-foot-long structure and demolish the rest to make way for residential and office space, but the city has put that plan on hold. Mayor Bill Peduto is intent on preserving and reusing the entire building with possible uses including shopping, retail, and arts space. 4. The Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard The Produce Terminal is adjacent to the much larger Riverfront Landing residential and office project, which is part of the much, much larger Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard plan. The latter aims to transform six miles of industrial land into new riverfront parks and mixed-use development. The ambitious proposal was conceived five years ago by the city, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Riverlife—a public-private partnership that advocates for riverfront parks. While it is still in the planning process, it was envisioned by Sasaki Associates for a study last year. Their proposed master plan includes new development, green space, bike paths, and converting an old railway into a commuter train. 5. Point State Park After a multi-year, multi-million dollar overhaul, Point State Park is once again entirely worthy of its iconic location. Situated right where the Monongahela River meets the Allegheny to form the Ohio River, the refurbished 36-acre park boasts new lawns, landscaping, seating, a café, and improved access to the water. Capping off the renovation, which was led by Marion Pressley Associates, is the park’s revamped fountain—which has been described as its “crown jewel.” The fountain now has a “disappearing edge waterfall feature, new lighting including colors for special events, all new surfaces, pumping equipment, and controls.” Of course, Point State Park is an impressive public space in its own right, but it’s only a portion of the city’s 13-miles of riverfront parks and trails. 6. Eastside III The city recently broke ground on Eastside III, a transit-oriented, mixed-use development in the city’s East Liberty neighborhood. The phased project will consist of three buildings, the first of which is expected to open next spring. The mixed-use project—designed by Design Collective—is being built alongside a revamped multi-modal transit hub by CDM Smith. The hub will be able to accommodate 1,000 daily bus arrivals and departures, and is expected to increase connections between neighborhoods. The new transit plaza includes "a repurposed bus ramp and a new cap over the railroad and busway." 7. Bike Share Later this year, Pittsburgh will join the ranks of cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. when it launches its own bike-share program. While details on the program are limited, the program is slated to roll-out this summer with about 500 bikes at 50 stations. The goal is to ultimately expand the program to 1,000 to 1,500 bikes at 100 to 150 stations. The big question, of course, is what will the system be called. The name is still under wraps, but it will have a corporate sponsor. So, place your bets now people. 8. TalkPGH While Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers are the biggest names in late-night these days, the most unique talk-show in the country was recently driving through the streets of Pittsburgh. Last Spring, Talk PGH—a talk-show that took place inside of a truck, yes inside of a truck—appeared in all of Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods. As part of PLANPGH, the city’s 25-year agenda for growth, the show was a way for the city to interview residents and hear their hopes for Pittsburgh's urban design. 9. Carnegie Mellon's Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall Carnegie Mellon’s already impressive campus will become even more so when the Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall—or "Scott Hall" as it's known locally—opens next year. The 100,000-square-foot building, designed by Office 52 and Stantec, will contain laboratories, libraries, office space, and a café. It will also house a cleanroom facility, “which will become the new home for Nano Fabrication, the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.” 10. The Car-Free Road Pittsburgh just one-upped every city priding themselves on their modest, new bike infrastructure. When faced with a dangerous road that put cyclists at risk, the city didn’t just add new protected bike lanes, they shut down part of a roadway from cars entirely. Now, the section of Pocusset Street, which winds through a city park is reserved exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists. According to Bike Pittsburgh, the Department of Public Works “repainted it with bi-directional bike-lanes, designated pedestrian walkways, included LED street lighting, and installed reflective bollards to block traffic from entering at either end.” 11. Ace Hotel And rounding out the list is, of course, a new Ace Hotel. While the Steel City will likely not become “The Next Portland”—an idea raised by both Pacific Standard and The Washington Post—the city will certainly move in Stumptown's direction when the exhaustingly trendy hotel opens in Pittsburgh next year. The 36-room Ace will be housed in a former YMCA building in the city’s East Liberty neighborhood. There are currently no renderings of the project, but one can expect plenty of Edison bulbs, murals, and some inexplicable, giant, vintage letters.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is reportedly considering a plan to boost capacity at Soldier Field, the city’s football stadium, in a bid to host the Super Bowl. But as the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin laid out in a story Sunday, the play is a Hail Mary. Indianapolis’ new Lucas Oil Stadium, designed by HKS' Bryan Trubey [read AN’s Q+A with Trubey here], hosted the Super Bowl in 2012. Indy has also hosted the NCAA Final Four and the Big Ten football championship. The stadium, which holds 70,000 people under its retractable roof, has spurred nearby development and solidified Indianapolis’ position as a Midwest sports Mecca. The ability to seat 70,000 fans is considered a prerequisite for hosting the Super Bowl, so Soldier Field’s capacity of 61,500 falls short. Soldier Field is currently the smallest stadium in the NFL. But an additional 5,000 would still make the home of the Chicago Bears a tight squeeze for spectators of the country’s biggest sporting event. Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman it’s also about other events:
“I know everybody looks at the Super Bowl. But, look at this hockey event [between the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins], which we started last year with college hockey. You look at two years ago when we had the Mexican soccer team here. We have Liverpool coming. These things not only sell out. They sell out fast. And it’s clear that you could do more, given these super events and they would be self-financing and self-sustaining.”Dirk Lohan, who led the master plan for the stadium’s expansion, told Kamin he’s not optimistic about the preliminary expansion plans. He said the original renovations had to balance capacity and preservation, leading to a design whose structural system could not be updated today without considerable expenses. [Read AN’s Q+A with Dirk Lohan in the upcoming March issue of the Midwest edition.] Architects Benjamin Wood and Carlos Zapata modernized 1920s-era Soldier Field in 2003, but the Bears’ desire to add more seating lost out to the city’s imperative to preserve Soldier Field’s historic colonnades. The $690 million renovation lost its National Historic Landmark status anyway in 2006. It’s unclear who’s studying the possible expansion for the Mayor, but whoever reviews the plan may have to lock heads with public scrutiny as intense as the stadium’s design challenges.
A list of over 100 cities has been whittled down to six. PeopleForBikes has announced the latest cities that will be the focus of the 2014 iteration of the Green Lane Project, an initiative that promotes urban bike infrastructure. The decision means that beginning in April, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle will all be on the receiving end of expert assistance, training and support in efforts to become increasingly bike-friendly. The project's director Martha Roskowski said that all the selected cities demonstrated "ambitious goals and a vision for bicycling supported by their elected officials and communities." Pittsburgh and Seattle's inclusion comes as each takes steps towards establishing bike share programs within their borders. Boston is already in possession of such a system. A major focus of the Green Lane initiative is to increase the number of protected bike lanes, and Seattle, Indianapolis, and Atlanta are already in possession of lanes included in PeopleForBikes' Best Of List for 2013. Since the program was launched in 2012, the number of such lanes within the US has nearly doubled, rising from 80 to 142. Half of this growth can be found in the Green Lane Project's six original focus cities: Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. [Via Streetsblog USA.]
Pittsburgh’s new mayor took office this week, and with him comes a cabinet division dedicated to neighborhood development. The Steel City has largely scrubbed its image as an ailing post-industrial town in recent years, drawing in new artists and young professionals, but the revival has not touched all parts of the city equally. Some urbanists have pinned their hopes of remedying that on incoming Mayor Bill Peduto. During his victory speech on November 5, Peduto contrasted himself with his predecessor, Luke Ravenstahl, who saw “Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance” in large developments like stadiums and convention centers. "Tonight, we end the era of renaissance. There is not going to be a Renaissance Four," he said that night. "It's about building within, rebuilding the neighborhoods." He tapped Valerie McDonald-Roberts to serve as the Chief of Urban Affairs, who will work with the city’s expanded planning department, non-profits and others to oversee the city’s housing initiatives, “with a particular focus on underserved neighborhoods,” according to her profile on the city's website. Kevin Acklin, the mayor’s chief of staff, will also oversee development and city infrastructure as Pittsburgh’s chief development officer. Peduto has also advocated improving bike infrastructure. Whether Peduto can realize his vision for a more equal Pittsburgh, with economic development beyond its resurgent downtown, remains to be seen. As the Post-Gazette reported, Peduto faces a capital budget largely depleted by his predecessor:
Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle believes working within the city's financial constraints will be the biggest obstacle to Mr. Peduto implementing his vision. "It's one thing to be visionary, [but] once you've sort of hit the ground you've got to govern," he said. "You've got to make the hard choices."
Fourth and fifth-year landscape architecture students at Penn State's College of Art and Architecture recently presented their proposals for reshaping a Pittsburgh neighborhood. The twelve participants in the school's Pittsburgh Studio spent most of the semester focusing on Hazelwood, a neighborhood set to host a new site for a historic branch of the city's Carnegie Library. At an exhibition in a local church, the Studio exhibited the projects to the community members they had designed them for. Such interaction between students and residents is characteristic of a program that fosters engagement between the two groups along every step of the creative process. Removing students from the vacuum of an classroom setting and placing them in the sites of their prospective designs brings additional weight to the work they generate. Says participant Aaron Ramos, “Once you meet these people, you connect and grow relationships with them and you feel responsible for what you design...I take more ownership with what I present to them and they take ownership, too.” The Studio is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Architecture and the Penn State Center, a branch of the school that enables broader engagement between the School and the city of Pittsburgh. The program, now in its 6th year, will culminate in a tangible impact on Hazelwood. City councilman Corey O' Conner says that $10,000 has been set aside to allow for the implementation of one of the yet-to-be chosen student designs.