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.
In life, by all accounts, William Penn, founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, was a good man. In death, however, this portly, English-born idealist has turned nasty—if the good sports fans of Philadelphia are to be believed. But Norman Foster has a plan to appease the spirits.
The Philadelphia Water Department wanted a 3 million gallon sewer overflow tank. Neighbors wanted maintenance of current community recreational space. Now, landscape architecture firm Andropogon has split the difference for Philadelphia residents concerned with the fate of Lower Venice Island. Using high performance landscape design, the firm has envisioned the 5-acre island between the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal as a space for both water maintenance and for community promenade and play.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), the agency overseeing the redevelopment of Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront, has hired San Francisco-based Hargreaves Associates to redesign the ailing riverfront. Among the challenges the landscape architects will face is reconnecting the new park space with the surrounding city. Currently, the waterfront is disconnected by the large Interstate 95 and Columbus Boulevard, an expanse that can reach up to 1,200 feet wide, according to Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron. Hargreaves has won accolades for handling waterfronts and highways in Louisville, KY and Chattanooga, TN.
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.