The Rockefeller Foundation has announced that four cities will receive a combined $1.2 million in grants to foster research, communications, and community outreach efforts in an endeavor to educate local stakeholders about the advantages of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. The Foundation’s solution to “Transform Cities” and promote fiscal growth and quality of life proposes better mass transit investments. Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh will participate in the project. The high performance mass transit system, referred to as BRT, offers much of the permanence and speed of a rail system in addition to the flexibility of bus systems for a smaller investment in initial infrastructure costs. BRT systems operate high-capacity vehicles that rely on dedicated lanes and elevated platforms to deliver efficient service. For years, the Rockefeller Foundation has supported Chicago’s attempts to build a city-wide BRT. With the grant, the city could potentially assemble and operate the first gold-standard BRT in the country. Currently, Cleveland operates the nation's highest-ranked BRT system at the ITDP's Silver designation. Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County Port Authority’s Transit Development plan recommends a BRT system to link downtown to its Oakland areas. At least forty stakeholder companies are working together to consider BRT system options for Pittsburgh. A projected BRT system in Nashville would run directly through the city’s downtown hub, although the project remains in the planning stage. In Boston, transportation supporters and state officials are currently considering a BRT system amid alternative transit modernization enterprises. The Rockefeller Foundation selected public affairs firm Global Strategy Group to handle the grant by teaming up with local partner organizations in each city. For the past three years, the Foundation has made over $6 million available to encourage the expansion of BRT.
Posts tagged with "Pittsburgh":
As part of the city’s first ever 25-year development plan, PLANPGH, Pittsburgh is taking a cue from Boston and rolling out a mobile talk show truck to hear what residents of each of the city’s 90 neighborhoods have to say about public art and urban design. TALKPGH will be cruising throughout the city on the glass-walled back of a box truck through April 20th as a public outreach effort from ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH, the public art and urban design branches of PLANPGH. The concerns and opinions voiced on the talk show will be taken into consideration during the creation of Pittsburgh’s first design manual, which will guide the city’s growth over the next 25 years. Public art and urban design will be key components of the plan, and as Morton Brown, the city’s manager of public art told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, officials are dedicated to making sure there will be room in the budget for high-quality art and design "in all city projects, from bridges to senior centers to pools… We want to raise the bar on public and private property. We’ve gathered every community design plan that has ever been done in neighborhoods, to pick the ‘greatest hits’ of each and to educate people on best practice models." With opportunities for growth throughout the city, TALKPGH gives residents an opportunity to raise awareness of their own neighborhoods, and bring their own local concerns to the forefront of planning discussions. If you live in Pittsburgh and want to have your voice heard or know someone who does, check here to see when TALKPGH is coming to your neighborhood and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-408-800-3176 to become an interviewee or a neighborhood liaison.
Pittsburgh is the latest in a long line of cities preparing to launch a bike share system. According to the Bike PGH blog, Mayor Ravenstahl announced the 500-bike, 50-station program earlier this month. Similar to systems in other cities, bikes will be available for short-term rides for a small fee. Portland, OR-based Alta Planning and Design will partner with the city to launch the system, the same company involved with New York, Washington DC, and other major bike share systems. More information will be available at two community meetings scheduled for April 2nd and 3rd. The city hopes to roll out the new bikes in 2014.
Cities matter. In the Midwest recent headlines have read like an urban planning syllabus: post-industrial rebirth attracts a new generation of urbanites downtown, the roll-out of high-speed rail begins to pick up pace, and while innovative solutions to the region’s well-documented problems abound, a lingering fiscal crisis and unfunded pension liabilities threaten to squash even the most attainable aspirations. Those topics and more made the agenda at University of Illinois Chicago’s annual Urban Forum held Thursday, whose lineup included the mayors of Columbus and Pittsburgh, as well as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil” was the topic at hand. Sporting reindeer antlers, a protestor was removed from the conference for trying to confront UIC board of trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy over an ongoing labor dispute at the University. His opening salvo may have summed up the emotional state of the intertwined crises of labor and urban redevelopment better than the slew of statistics his target subsequently laid out, but the numbers are indeed telling: Illinois faces the nation’s largest unfunded pension liability; Chicago and Cook County grapple with decaying infrastructure and persistent impoverishment—some 500,000 people in the suburbs live in poverty, outnumbering those in the city. Governor Quinn and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle skipped out on their scheduled appearances to deal with ongoing pension negotiations, but their deputy staffers filled in for the hand-wringing. It would cost so much just to “stop the pain,” said Deputy Mayor Steven Koch, and pay off debt interest at all three levels of government that doing so would bankrupt them instantly. At least they are not alone. “We have a particularly bad form of this disease,” Koch said, “but the disease is widespread.” Somewhat less grim was the following panel, which asked the top brass of Columbus, Las Vegas, and Pittsburgh to share their municipal travails. Facing financial crisis in 2001 and then again in 2008, Columbus “had to make a decision about what kind of city we wanted to be,” according to Mayor Michael Coleman. Service cuts were unavoidable, he said, but cutting too much could plunge the city into a spiral from which it would take decades to recover. Faced with cutting firemen and police, Coleman said he approached the business community with plans for a half-percent tax hike. They and the public supported it, he said, in lieu of further cuts. In Pittsburgh, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl recounted the steps he took to attract $5 billion in new downtown investment to the former steel city, which “hit the wall” around 1983. The ultra-green PNC Tower and a growing cadre of Google jobs were his celebrated examples, but he said investing in bike paths and other transportation infrastructure was critical to the revival of the city’s Bakery Square neighborhood. Secretary LaHood closed the day with a rallying cry for high-speed rail that minced no words. “High-speed rail is coming to America,” he said. “There’s no stopping it. We are not going back.” Though the secretary deflected credit for the policy change onto the President, he said his legacy would be safety, pointing to distracted driving restrictions now on the books in 39 states. “Everyone knows what’s needed in the United States,” LaHood said. “The issue is how do we pay for it?” Federal grant programs for multimodal transportation projects have expanded under the Recovery act, but LaHood said the key to sustaining growth was leveraging private money, in part through strategic loan programs. As for governors refusing to spend federal money on rail projects in their states, the secretary said, “Elections matter.”
White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes Carnegie Museum of Art 4400 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA Through January 13, 2013 With the exhibition White Cube Green Maze at the Heinz Architectural Center in the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, curator Raymund Ryan moved beyond the predictable white enclosed gallery, creating a maze, which forces viewers to navigate museum space and interact with art in new ways. The exhibition presents a series of six innovative designs from around the world that blend landscape design, modern architecture, art, and environment. The sites are shown with photos, presentation models, sketches by various artists and historical designs and redesigns of the sites, offering an understanding of how collaborative the design processes were. Visitors can wander through the exhibition’s different pavilions that open to beautiful outdoor spaces. The sites in the exhibition include the Olympic Sculpture Park (USA), Stiftung Insel Hombroich (Germany), Benesse Art Site Naoshima (Japan), Instituto Inhotim (Brazil), Jardín Botánico de Culiacán (Mexico), and Grand Traiano Art Complex (Italy), all captured in architectural photographs by Iwan Baan.
The airline industry was hit hard by the recession—2011 had fewer takeoffs than any year since 2002. Airports in cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Oakland are feeling the effects of that contraction, leaving one-time regional hubs and smaller airports with vacant and underused terminals. A report on airport building reuse commissioned last year by the Transportation Research Board found enplanements were down more than 60 percent in St. Louis over the last decade. Growing interest in regional rail transit could place further pressure on smaller airports to get creative with their extra space, especially as they face costly demolition bills and shrinking revenue.
Last week, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl unveiled a plan to resuscitate 2,000 acres of brownfield property alongside the Allegheny River. The report, the Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan, follows a two-year study headed up by Perkins Eastman. Much of the planning sprung from meetings with the resident and business communities, and aims to connect neighborhoods to the river for the first time. Cities throughout the country continue to reclaim their rivers, but Pittsburgh’s situation is unique. “The neighborhoods were built to serve industry not the river,” said Stephen Quick, a principal at Perkins Eastman. “You don’t even see the river from the communities. This was not Savannah.” While much of Pittsburgh maintains waterfront access, Quick said the city did not have a vision plan for areas upriver from Downtown. The new plan encompasses five neighborhoods that face the river, from Downtown to Highland Park. But the neighborhoods sit further inland, as industry preferred the flat riverside land for factories and the waterfront access for hauling and dumping. Street grids and sidewalks stop at the factory door. For generations of Pittsburghers, the river was a facility, in more ways than one. In addition to serving as an industrial transitway, the river was an integral part of the city's sewers system. Today, Pittsburgh employs a Combined Sewer Outlet system to handle both sanitary and rainwater runoff. Overflow spills into the Allegheny. The design team knew the system could handle the sanitary use, so the recommendations focused on employing pervious surfaces, creating green streets and planting brownfields and alleyways to absorb runoff. It’s a method that has gained traction in policy and planning elsewhere. Park departments in New York and Philadelphia both released similar documents over the past three months. The Pittsburgh plan has already attracted the attention of the Federal government, which awarded the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority $1.5 million in TIGER II funds to further study transforming a freight rail bed into a “rail-with-trail green boulevard”. The line will become the green spine connecting the five neighborhoods along the river. Culturally, however, it may take time for a public that has never really thought of its riverfront as a playground. “We’ve begun to get good access by putting in trails that are very close to the river, but there’s still a lot of industry on the edge,” said Quick. “It’s a real cultural shift.”
BEFORE SUBZERO, REFRIGERATORS WERE WHITE (OR AVOCADO) Eavesdrop jetted to pollen-crusted Raleigh, NC, with an eclectic herd of reporters from the likes of Sculpture magazine and The Jewish Daily Forward to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art expansion designed by Thomas Phifer. We were not disappointed. The 127,000-square-foot museum is an elegant, single-story box penetrated by courtyards, pools, and gardens. The interior and exterior details are so deliciously subtle that they seemed to elude some of the mainstream press, who asked him why he didn’t site the building to dominate the street. Articulate and precise, Phifer hypnotized the skeptics by explaining every strategy convincingly, and they hung on his every word. (Check out AN correspondent Thomas de Monchaux’s own critical appraisal in our next issue.) Later, as the tour wound down, and journalists were milling about in the lobby, Eavesdrop overheard two gentlemen relaxing on a bench and discussing the building’s aesthetics. The one with deep architectural insight commented to his older companion: “White. All the walls are white. Everything is white! I wondered what that was about, and then I remembered that Phifer worked for Richard Meier for years. That’s where he got his refrigerator-door palette!” Eavesdrop almost collapsed. CHANNELING WARHOL Attention, iPhoneys. “Is This Art?” is a new iPhone app “designed for people who have questions about the artistic integrity of their surroundings.” Using the iPhone’s camera, the app’s Pittsburgh-based developers claim they will instantly provide users with an “authoritative declaration of artistic importance.” This could work for architecture, thought Eavesdrop, which found three architecture-related submissions in its reservoir. The bloated, rainbow-colored “Hell, Yes!” barnacle on the New Museum in New York was panned with “I do not understand it; therefore, THIS NOT ART.” The merit of W.R. Dalzell’s apparently out-of-print book Architecture: The Indispensable Art was confirmed with “This work’s materiality is immaterial; therefore, THIS IS ART.” What is art, the cover or its contents? The same approval rating was bestowed on a bland window wall of a building that looks like a stillborn Dwell house. First one to submit a picture of Danny Libeskind’s Dresden Military History Museum wins. FAREWELL FEUD Raimund Abraham, who died in a car accident on March 4 in Los Angeles, had been a faculty member at Cooper Union since 1971, along with other long-timers such as Lebbeus Woods, Diane Lewis, and Kevin Bone. And while a memorial for Abraham in Vienna at the MAK Museum is planned for June 11 (including Peter Eisenman, Michael Rotondi, Wolf Prix, and Woods as speakers) in spite of his renouncing Austrian citizenship in 2002, factions at Cooper Union have proved so fractious that no date or program for a memorial in New York has yet been set. Send vintage Kelvinators and Frigidaires to email@example.com
Ask anyone from Pittsburgh (present company included) what the blinking light atop the Grant Building is, and they'll quickly respond, "Easy! It spells out Pittsburgh in morse code." Well, not exactly. Turns out a local grad student who also happens to be a ham radio operator was up on Mount Washington for the annual 4th of July fireworks (of which we have the best, courtesy the great Zambelli family). While he waited for the lights to go off, he was watching the red flashing light atop the Grant Building--the city's first skyscraper when it was completed in 1929 and a wonderful art deco achievement by Henry Hornbostel--when he noticed something that didn't belong. "I was looking at it, and I saw the letter 'K,' which is [dash-dot-dash]," Tom Stepleton told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I remembered 'K' because my sister's name starts with 'K.' And I knew that wasn't supposed to be there." The P-G further investigated and found out the building owners were unaware of the mistake and also when it had begun, nor, sadly, when it might be corrected. That's Pittsburgh for you. Heck, it could even just be a rendition of the city name in the local dialect. And it's not the only problem the city's buildings have. Our tallest, the Steel Building, rusts wantonly, and the lights at Fifth Avenue Place had to be shut off, and then for better and worse turned blue, because they were disrupting the planetarium's telescope at CMU.