BIG to head up Pittsburgh masterplan

BIG to be lead designer of the residences and public spaces on a 28-acre redevelopment site on the Lower Hill in Pittsburgh

by Nick Myall 20 November 2015 Urban design
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    A new development in Pittsburgh, USA, re-envisioning the former site of a historic arena and bustling neighbourhood, may be one of its biggest opportunities yet to truly redesign the fabric of a major city. Ever since demolition in 2012, the Civic Arena site, former home of the city's professional hockey franchise, the Penguins has been an unrealised possibility offering prime real estate near the city's core.

    BIG, West 8 and Atelier Ten's vision for a new master plan in Pittsburgh covers 28 acres, including 1,200 units of housing as well as 1+ m sq ft of retail and commerce space. It provides accessibility across Pittsburgh's unique topography and creates a vibrant new open space for the city’s residents to enjoy. 

    BIG were brought in to design the residences and public spaces at the 28-acre Lower Hill District of Pittsburgh. Building upon the city's efforts from the past decade, BIG's proposal redevelops the public space around the former Civic Arena, including a public space across from Consol Energy Center, and connects the property to Downtown, Uptown and the rest of the Hill District. 

    “The masterplan 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. 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. “ Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.

    "BIG's master plan seeks to become a catalyst for future investment into the Hill District, moving beyond the standard sustainability solutions and reversing a tendency to vacate, and instead to refocus and reinvest into building a strong community." Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Partner, BIG.

    BIG envisions a multifunctional and revitalized neighbourhood that is centred along a meandering public realm that serves to connect the Hill District back to its downtown core. The proposal combines individual buildings with a variety of functions bounded by a network of accessible paths and triangular plazas. The terraced sloping roofs and varying building volumes take advantage of the steep slope that is so unique to Pittsburgh and provides the neighbourhood its distinct qualities of incredible views, daylight and generous terraces.

    Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, previously said: “This announcement is not just about developing. It’s about how adding on to what we have, which is already incredibly special, and building something for the next 50 years. By bringing BIG in, we’re taking that next big step on these 28 acres, and we’re looking at a way of not just building buildings there.”

    The terraced roofscapes in the residential areas ensure that residents can access outdoor areas to enjoy the views and to also encourage a sense of community among its neighbours. Atelier Ten has developed a set of comprehensive sustainable goals that consider district scaled heating and cooling opportunities, retaining all rainwater on the site and utilizing it for irrigation of the public space.  


    Nick Myall

    News Editor

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