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Comment Archives: stories: Arts: Architecture

Re: “Plans for the Pittsburgh International Airport renovation leave a lot to be desired

I like recent renovations to the airport in the terminal - the new floors, the improved ambiance on airside. And I agree more could be done to modernize. However, I think moving landside to airside is extremely short-sided. It would make it almost impossible for the Pittsburgh International Airport to have a major expansion again. Seeing the big X of the terminal from a sky always lets me know I'm near Pittsburgh when I'm flying. Sounds like the Pittsburgh Airport won't look as unique from the sky in the future.

Posted by LaurieMann on 10/02/2017 at 1:54 PM

Re: “Why can't Pittsburgh's building boom produce better buildings?

I think we need to stop and realize how budget-constrained developers are in this region. Pittsburgh is filled with old, beautiful architecture that could never be built in today's world by a private developer expecting a reasonable profit without considerable subsidies.

Furthermore, Pittsburgh suffers from a 30+ year development glut that has directly led to an affordable housing problem. Class A product has not been rolled out and depreciated into more affordable Class B/C product and developing affordable housing is, again, incredibly difficult without significant public subsidy.

Look at what the going rate for a unit at Baumhaus (Vitmore) is. Sticker shock? Is that what we want more or in this city? We already have so many areas complaining about gentrification and affordability and now we are going to pressure developers to either only deliver extremely expensive products or rely on outrageous amounts of tax money? What we need is to grease the wheels of development and get the city back to a state of growth. We have finally stopped bleeding population. Not is not the time for a tantrum. Now is the time to buckle down and turn the wheels of progress to bring Pittsburgh into the modern world and benefit EVERY citizen. Developers are not inherently evil. They act inside of the economic and regulatory constraints put upon them. Pittsburgh NEEDS developers. Without them, we will never achieve affordability, in-migrant desirability, and the kind of sustained economic renaissance this city as a whole has been pursuing for at least two decades.

Before you complain and condemn, I would advise you to look for the why's and how's and, if you can, walk a mile in a developer's shoes. They are not as cushy as you might think. If it was easy, everyone would do it. If creating designs that flew through the EXTREMELY painful approval process was a simple matter, why would an experienced developer do anything but that? Because it is extremely difficult in today's market. Your arguments sound great, but I assure you that they don't hold water unless you want all new development to fetch rents in the stratosphere because anything less and the developer would be bankrupt. Good luck with that. For my money, I say keep it rolling and let's make Pittsburgh great again ... together.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by pgherforcommonsense on 05/18/2017 at 12:25 PM

Re: “It's time to tear down Mount Washington's illuminated sign

I am looking for the Westinghouse sign from my childhood, circa 1948. It was like the Hollywood sign with letters on a hill. First, WE would light, then USE would light, then the whole name. It was WE - USE - WESTINGHOUSE. Doesn't anyone remember that? Are there no pictures?

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by frog puppet on 03/13/2017 at 5:11 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

Can't wait to see this project get underway. The arguments against it hold no weight. Misguided frustration, apathy toward government, I get it. This, however, is a beautiful idea, funded by a grant specifically designed for THIS project, that will transform an area of downtown that is frankly inhospitable.

This is a practical means of helping the Hill. While symbolic means like the August Wilson House are great, there needs to practical means as well.

It'll be great, haters will come around.

Posted by Enke on 09/09/2016 at 2:55 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

In spite of all of the critiques and pessimism of the author and commentators, I think it will be nice to have the gash in the middle of the city covered. Glad that the city was smart enough to put together a credible proposal for the $19 million.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by William Ford on 08/17/2016 at 5:56 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

Cheese and rice, look into this project a little deeper.

Housing is irrelevant to this project because it is federally funded through a TIGER grant, which comes through the Dept. of Transportation specifically for transit projects. This cap project has been an idea for years and the DOT didn't initially see it relevant as a transit project at first; it took several years of applications by state representatives to coherence agreement.

It is not just a slab of concrete. The proposal will build up terra and support vegetation in a highly exposed, hot and uncomfortable link between Uptown, the Hill, and Downtown.

The 28-acres "someday, maybe" will be developed; wouldn't creating physical access, outdoor congregation space, preformative space, and commercial space that bridges the largest obstruction to existing vibrance create a more inciting and commercially viable prospect for the Lower Hill? Developmental energy will come from Downtown toward the Hill, regardless of how ideal it seems to be in the inverse.

And FYI: it's LaQuatra Bonci Associates and Walter Hood is a landscape architect, not an architect.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by AA on 08/17/2016 at 2:22 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

Clear-eyed analysis beats blind Chamber-of-Commerce cheerleading every time. And let's not forget all of the Hill District connections to Uptown (the Fifth/Forbes corridor). Knitting together those two neighborhoods would be a boost to both Oakland and Downtown.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Chris Zurawsky on 08/17/2016 at 1:46 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

People keep asking me about the $19 million for the Hill District. The Hill District did not get $19 million. The money is another subsidy for the Penguins. In addition to the more than $750 million they have already received.
$19 million more for the Penguins no money for the Curtain Call community project promised in 2009.

4 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Carl Redwood on 08/12/2016 at 6:36 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

The Hill community continues to be this organized force to fight back against this terrible plan. The community has already developed a plan and the city, SEA, and Penguins will not be able to continue to ignore us for long. But I also tired of waiting and doing whatever I can to continue to work with amazing group of people in the Hill to come up with community solutions to revitalize and make the community economically strong while preserving the historic and cultural legacy of the Hill! The restoration of the August Wilson House (‪#‎AWHouse‬) is a great example of a grass root community solution to counter act the city's horrible urban redevelopment plans and a catalyst for positive change in a community (such as the Hill) that have been economically dis-invested for decades through racism and bad policy making by the powers that be. I will not sit on the sideline and let history repeat itself! So the fight continues and I believe that WE CAN WIN!!!

5 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Brian Brown on 08/12/2016 at 1:47 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

It seems that this is a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good. It is without doubt a good thing to cover even just this one block of the highway rather than to leave its entire length as an open scar. Yes, it would probably be better if the open space could be further up the slope and immersed in the center of the Lower Hill development; that would allow this parcel to become a denser mixed-use development, bridging the divide between Golden Triangle and Lower Hill programmatically and from a massing standpoint. Sadly, the funding for this project cannot be used flexibly, so it is rather a take it or leave it proposition. I'll take it and count it as a gain for the city overall.

7 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Hal Hayes AIA on 08/12/2016 at 1:20 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

The 2009 Greenprint referenced here is a plan for Hill District development that is smart and sensitive to both the environment and to the Hill's history and culture. It was created in a deeply collaborative process with Hill residents, a process facilitated by the Hill House. The author, architect Walter Hood, has every bit of the credentials of LaQuatra Bonci Landscape Architects, leading us to ask, Why is the community's own plan being ignored by the City? This is our chance to correct historic wrong-doing to an entire community- and it's a golden opportunity that won't come around again anytime soon.

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by PGH4ART on 08/11/2016 at 4:05 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

connecting the residentiwl community withits neihboring communities needs to be considered as priority. Building infrastructure, fundung home loans, 2nd mortgages and grants to revitalize the residential properties, priority. Tax breaks, loans and grants forthe commercisl area and building new commercial spaces all priorities. Connection could occur by creating attractive avenues to oass into to2n. But perhaps a priority better suited for succesful rejuvenation is creating valuable access into the hill and destinations that attract all city dwellers.

0 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Kevin McKee on 08/11/2016 at 2:51 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

The rehabilitation and reimagining of the recently reopened August Wilson Park (formerly Cliffside) has been a project of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, City of Pittsburgh's Departments of Public Works and City Planning, and Hill House Association. Extensive and honest community conversations and input were key components of the design, planning, construction, and reopening of August Wilson Park. The joy of the community and all involved was clearly evident at the park's reopening event, and was indeed a wonderful thing to see.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Scott Roller on 08/11/2016 at 12:47 PM

Re: “A proposed highway cap won’t help the Lower Hill

How in the world did they get $19 million to build a giant concrete thing no one needs when human beings and small local businesses are being forced out of East Liberty and the Hill needs rebuilding?!? Connecting is all well and good, but how about emphasizing more PROTECTING our people?!?

7 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by PhatManDee on 08/11/2016 at 9:12 AM

Re: “The new East Liberty Transit Center is a mixed success

I'd like to point out that in spite of substantial city, county, state, and federal money, including URA, there was no requirement for affordable housing placed on the developer. When will Pittsburgh wake up to the realities of the 21st century with a requirement that if public entities subsidize a developer, some percentage of affordable housing should hbe mandated?

5 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Jim Altes on 04/21/2016 at 10:17 AM

Re: “The new East Liberty Transit Center is a mixed success

RRM - Note there are stairs from the pedestrian bridge to both the inbound and outbound platforms. The ramps are necessarily sloped at <5% to accommodate ADA standards.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Paul Alessio on 04/20/2016 at 4:14 PM

Re: “The new East Liberty Transit Center is a mixed success

I'm not a fan of the switchbacks you need to walk down in order to get to the inbound side. I wish there was a direct stair case to the crosswalk. Sometimes those extra seconds you spend zigzagging make the difference when catching a bus.

4 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by RRM on 04/20/2016 at 11:22 AM

Re: “Are new plans for the Lower Hill for building, or for show?

So a couple points. First, McCormack Baron Salazar and the Penguins actually jointly hired BIG, and they are saying they intend to start building on the plan next year.

Second, BIG specifically addressed the "this looks too expensive for Pittsburgh" observation. They consulted with a bunch of construction, landscaping, and so on firms (they listed west 8, atelier ten, massaro, graves design group, la quatra bonci associates, mongalo-winston consulting, michael baker international, and sota construction services), and they explicitly said they knew it looked ambitious but that they had designed it to be deliverable on the budget given.

Together, all this implies to me that BIG's plan is at the minimum a serious proposal for the initial residential phase, which McCormack Baron Salazar has contracted to develop. The lower portion is probably more speculative, but that is OK with me--it actually has some questionable elements, and in any event it might well be best in the long run for someone else to put a different spin on the lower portions.

So yes, maybe this will stop in the middle--but it may well get that far first.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Brian Tucker-Hill on 12/09/2015 at 2:28 PM

Re: “It's time to tear down Mount Washington's illuminated sign

I think I remember this from the 1960s.

Maybe it's time it should go.

Mount Washington has been abused enough.

Posted by Ralph Adam Cram and Jamester on 12/04/2015 at 1:28 AM

Re: “A proposed addition to an Oakland landmark prompts questions about the redevelopment process

If you don't have talent equal to Ralph Adams Cram, Charles Klauder, Goodhue, Egan and Prindeville, or Henry Hornbostel, you no business building anything in Oakland—or Pittsburgh!

Pittsburgh (and the world) has no use for "developers." Pittsburgh deserves only the best architects the world has to offer. Are there any real architects anymore?

"Development" is a useless 19th- and 20th-century urban disease spreading into the 21st century. We need a vaccine desperately. The world needs highly trained architects who care about their communities and who have the talent and character to inspire those who live in and look upon their creations.

Posted by RAC and James on 12/04/2015 at 1:20 AM

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