July 12, 2006
by Canadian Architect
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust successfully completed a 12-month process to determine a winner for its Cultural District Riverfront Development and Design Competition, culminating more than 20 years of effort by the Cultural Trust. The Trust announced the selection of the RiverParc team led by master developer Concord Eastridge Inc., and a world-class design team comprising Behnisch Architekten and Transsolar, both from Stuttgart, architectsAlliance from Toronto, Gehl Architects from Copenhagen and WTW Architects from Pittsburgh as the Trust’s partner in the design and development of the six-acre site. The Urban Land Institute has called this project one of the most significant urban planning developments in the nation.
The $460-million project, bounded by Fort Duquesne Boulevard overlooking the Allegheny River, Penn Avenue, and Seventh and Ninth streets, will be the country’s first master-planned “green” mixed-use, arts/residential neighbourhood, providing approximately 700 new residential units and 9,200 jobs for the region.
“The Riverfront Development has a scope and magnitude unparalleled in the Cultural Trust’s history,” said the Cultural Trust’s Chairman James E. Rohr, and Chairman of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. “The economic impact of the project will exceed $1 billion, bringing Pittsburgh one step closer to the vision set forth by Jack Heinz in the 1960s to transform an abandoned downtown into one of the nation’s leading urban arts and residential centres.”
Launched in the summer of 2005, the distinctive competition process included an invited request for qualifications from more than 100 interested developers, architects, artists and design professionals from the United States and abroad. After conducting extensive evaluations and interviews in Pittsburgh, the Cultural Trust honed the list to three teams that proceeded to the final round of competition, narrowing the field to one winner with the guidance of a distinguished panel of local, national and international jurors.
At the conclusion of the deliberations, juror Robert Campbell, architect and Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of the Boston Globe, praised the way Concord Eastridge and its design team “dealt intelligently with every significant urban design issue.” The jury was particularly impressed by the cohesiveness and collaborative spirit of the entire design, development and financing team. Campbell added that the Cultural Trust’s competition process and outcome were outstanding.
The vision for the Cultural District Riverfront Development provides an essential component to Pittsburgh’s 14-square-block Cultural District. The plan includes seven new residential buildings, a street of townhouses, a four-star hotel and a performing arts venue. Retail will be located on the ground floors and will occur throughout the development, and new parking structures will provide an additional amenity for the area.
A key component of the Concord Eastridge plan calls for LEED-certified and environmentally sensitive buildings, numerous parks and green spaces both inside the buildings and in the public realm, vertical winter gardens and roof terraces, and the addition of the Three Sisters Gallery. The new park proposes an innovative capping of the highway between the Three Sisters Bridges, which would establish a park to cover the 10th Street bypass facing the riverfront. It will provide an important connection to the river and offer multiple athletic, recreational and vending opportunities to service river-goers. The Three Sisters Gallery could also include a multi-use floating stage for special events.
This fall, the design process will include public forums with the Cultural District Riverfront Development architecture team to engage residents, artists and members of community organizations. The project is estimated to break ground in mid-2007.