BIG, West 8 and Atelier Ten have revealed their masterplan design for Pittsburgh's Lower Hill district, just outside the city's downtown region. Located on the former site of Pittsburgh's Civic Arena, which was demolished in 2012 and has since left a significant hole in the city's fabric, the design will bring 1,200 residences and over 1 million square feet of retail space to the area, while reconnecting the wider Hill District with the downtown core by reinstating the city's road grid, overlaid with a series of pedestrian footpaths, public plazas and green spaces.
The masterplan design takes advantage of Pittsburgh's sloping topography, with terraced roofs on the residential buildings to offer views and outdoor space to residents, while zig-zagging pedestrian paths provide gently sloping routes through the site, combining with the buildings to define a number of triangular neighborhood plazas. At the eastern edge of the site, closest to the downtown, towers surround the largest open public space, just a short distance from the Pittsburgh Penguins' current home at Consol Energy Center.
"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," said BIG's Bjarke Ingels. "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."
"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," added Kai-Uwe Bergmann, one of BIG's three partners-in-charge on the project.
West 8's design for the development's public realm features granite outcroppings inspired by the local geology, and an open-air storm drainage system that "encourages discovery and play." At the same time, the pedestrian routes are designed to encourage a lively atmosphere and an efficient flow of pedestrians and cyclists.
"The site, with its slopes and views, is perfectly suited for bringing an experience of the native landscape to this urban condition," explained Jamie Maslyn, a partner at West 8. "The design creates a new open space identity but more importantly gives neighbors and visitors the sensations of nature in the heart of the city."
Atelier Ten plans to bring sustainability to the masterplan by including district scaled heating and cooling opportunities and retention of rainwater on the site for use in irrigating the public space.
LocationWashington Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA
BIG Partners in ChargeKai-Uwe Bergmann, Daniel Sundlin, Bjarke Ingels
BIG Project LeaderJelena Vucic
BIG Project ManagerSimon David
BIG Project TeamCheyenne Vandevoorde, Marcus Kujala, Nicolas Gustin, Ibrahim Salman, Terrence Chew, Peter Lee, Lasse Kristensen, Thomas Christoffersen
Landscape Architecture Collaboration
Urban Planning/Public Liason
ClientMcCormack Baron Salazar (MBS) + Pittsburgh Arena Real Estate Redevelopment (PAR)
Estimated development cost$500+ Million USD
PhotographsCourtesy of BIG
Urban Planning and Public Liaison