Kudos to Charles Rosenblum on his current article (Building Busts) and kudos to Pittsburgh City Paper for having an architecture critic who so impressively covers issues relating to our built environment. Pittsburgh is having a building boom without the city planning needed to demand better quality design, among other things. To add insult to injury much of the development is happening at the cost of older buildings that were built to last and incorporated better design principles and quality materials. Today’s building materials and design are mainly used to maximize profits for developers and whether these buildings will last 20-50 years is unclear (thereby canceling any sustainable benefits when they go to the landfill). Thanks to Charles for speaking up and naming names. I hope this inspires our leaders – if not the developers – to demand more and abandon the “any development is good development” credo that has been in place for so many years.
Developers keep hiring the same horrible architect which is Strada. No vision and boring none of their work stands out and very bland colors. All their work looks the same.
Walnut Capital designs the most ugly, concrete, bland buildings in the city. A few flower pots or trees on the sidewalk would make a world of difference. Walnut Capital over prices all of their properties and units too.
I would love to know who developed the idea that apartments at Bakery Square are too cheap. The buildings are unimaginative, but it's a far stretch of the imagination to say that $1,295 a month is too cheap for a 500 square foot studio and $2260 is too cheap for a two bedroom apartment.
Arbitrating good taste is not a simple matter. When plans come before the Planning Commission with odd amenities, such as the recent shell of sheet metal with round holes of varying sizes all over it, the most effective thing might be to simply ask, "Are the holes so the pigeons can land and better poop upon the windows?" When yet another building (and another and another) comes through with concrete block, corrugated metal, and a couple bricks, just ask, "What is this style called? It seems so Third World."
And when yet another building - especially a planned residential apartment building - asks for three or four lit signs, each larger than the other, mounted on various places also against Code, and all are at least thrice the Zoning Code limit, just say "no." Variances should only be granted to address some hardship to the property, not some greed or selfishness on the part of the owner.
Another note - why are architects and real estate speculators still designing individual homes that are not accessible to folks with disabilities? Why should a brand new home have to be retrofitted to be accessible?
We can do better on all of this. We know some great architects.
While I'm encouraged by the collective mentality of the new members of the planning commission, their actions so far give me pause. In public meetings they're willing to push back against bad architecture/development with pointed questions and suggestions, but when the vote comes, they capitulate. I can't wait for the group to put its foot down on a project with a definitive "no".
another building that very few will be able to afford living in ... and boxy/ugly and un-inspired looking, to boot .
"Good enough is not Good enough" was the rallying cry from Mayor Peduto at the P4 conference; Every public official needs to take the time to read this and take time to understand make sure subsidies and incentives as well their bully pulpit are leveraged for better design. Oxford in particular must be called out. Trek and Mosites show that it can be done. Project proformas (cost per SF and public subsidies) can reveal much and need to be opened up to pressure better design. Of course hiring better architects and giving them the resources would help ;).
For a city that has a renowned architecture school, the design of the newer buildings here is just tragic. Do we really need yet another basic block structure, ugly like the airport, or the ubiquitous pergola style buildings that permeate the South Side, North Side and, sadly, everywhere else? Would be nice if the architects has some design sense and were creative --- and not just copycats.
since when is saving a 7-11 a celebration
1. "The "Portal Project" is finally getting rid of one downtrodden area of Oakland, yet another one seems to be forming (or is already formed) at the "Boulevard Portal". Kind of a weird location, but not so far removed that empty buildings should be sitting there." Have you seen the proposal for the replacement? bland suburban office buildings. We can do better… See the Oakland 2025 Plan.
2. "The concerns in this article are responsible questions that should be raised, but I'm confident in Point Park's track record…." If they are responsible questions why not wait until a full plan is unveiled; preservation should not be a process of demolish ask questions later. Few buildings will/have survived this approach. PPU has not demonstrated that it cant work (technical, cost, design). An open professional problem solving workshop could resolve this. If we could do it with 5th & Forbes (GC Murphy Block) we can do it here. PPU deserve praise and so does the public/taxpayer for significant funding assistance, now and lilely in the future.
Point Park has been an excellent downtown tenant and have done extraordinary work in the past 5-10 years transforming their "campus" and improving the streetscape in the blocks that encompass it. The concerns in this article are responsible questions that should be raised, but I'm confident in Point Park's track record that they will do what they can to preserve the historic integrity of the area while simultaneously making the necessary improvements to attract more people downtown and make it a more viable "community" as a whole.
Is there a projected use for the soon-to-be abandoned Playhouse in Oakland? That corner of Craft/Boulevard of the Allies already has one vacant building, as well as a gas station. Magee's putting in a new Emergency entrance on that side, and I presume this will encourage employees and visitors to use Craft Street for access instead of only Halket. The "Portal Project" is finally getting rid of one downtrodden area of Oakland, yet another one seems to be forming (or is already formed) at the "Boulevard Portal". Kind of a weird location, but not so far removed that empty buildings should be sitting there.
The neighborhood process had a significant impact on this design. The original L & K concept exaggerated the horizontal aspects of the building and the site, completely out of context with the vertical rectangles that mark the surrounding historic buidings. Community asked that the facade convey a greater verticality in keeping with the rhythm of the existing built environment. While most certainly a contemporary structure, the revised design does "harmonize subtly" with its surroundings. Community input helped take this from discordance to harmony.
What happened to the Kaufmann murals? Were they moved to storage or some other location or simply destroyed or painted over?
I remember as a child walking across the pedestrian bridge that used to be there. On Ellsworth Ave, you could see what used to be Sacred Heart High School; (my mom went there) and the Tom Tucker bottling plant. Going across the bridge was Huffstadter Cadillac (what is now Motor Square Gardens) and one of the many White Tower restaurants that used to dot the area. Sadly, the Ellsworth Ave bridge to South Highland was never re-opened.
fresh heirlooms in lawrenceville offers creative reuse classes and workshops. plus, they sell a ton of artistic green gifts made from recycled materials. awesome stuff. www.freshheirlooms.com
Mellon building #2, the Union Trust Building, is the real travesty here. That place was a beautiful mall with an open area in the middle which is almost completely filled in with office space floors now.
You've done a great job and left me wistful about Pittsburgh's potential. This house is a true gem and I applaud the artist(s) for creating and restoring it. I am familiar with Walsh's work and it's great to see it appreciated.
Breathe slowly and feel the space between this and the next breath...Proof again!!! No wonder western Pennsylvania has always felt like the safest place on the planet to nest at and enjoy the best the earth has to offer!!! sincerely, firstname.lastname@example.org
I was an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright in 1951-2-&3. Recently I learned about his home "Taliesin," in Spring Green, Wi. was one of 11 buildings on the Most Endangered Places at: National Trust for Historical Preservation; so I wrote "Taliesin Reflectios." I am donating 100% of the proceeds to Taliesin Preservation, Inc. (non-profit) for the upkeep of FLLW's Masterpiece. Earl Nisbet - Aptos.
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