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BIG plans for Pittsburgh: Bjarke Ingels’ Lower Hill District master plan evokes hilly topography

Paths will be carved to create a dialogue between Pittsburgh’s urbanscape and its hilly surroundings.

November 23, 2015 |
BIG plans for Pittsburgh: Lower Hill District master plan evokes hilly topography

The master plan will rejuvenate the former site of the Pittsburgh Penguins' arena. Renderings courtesy BIG

Pittsburgh is bracing itself for what The Architect’s Newspaper calls “BIG news”: Private developers have hired the hot Danish firm, led by Bjarke Ingels, along with Atelier Ten and West 8 Landscape Architects, to create a master plan for 28 acres of Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill District.

The developers, McCormack Baron Salazar and hockey team Pittsburgh Penguins, plan to redevelop public space around the Civic Arena and build “dialogue with the city’s vertiginous topography to create bike and pedestrian paths,” the Architect’s Newspaper reports.

“The paths are turned and twisted to always find a gentle sloping path leading pedestrians and bicyclists comfortably up and down the hillside,” said Bjarke Ingels in a statement. “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.”

Dezeen reports that for the public realm, West 8 has “proposed granite outcroppings that take their cue from the region's mountainous landscape.”

"The site, with its slopes and views, is perfectly suited for bringing an experience of the native landscape to this urban condition," Jamie Maslyn, a Partner at West 8, told Dezeen.

A cost of around $500 million is expected for the project’s execution. The plan includes 1.2 million sf dedicated to residential construction, as well as 1.25 million sf for retail and commercial space. Developers expect to break ground in 2016.

“The master plan 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,” Ingels said in a statement.

Atelier Ten’s environmental consultants are developing sustainable and efficient systems for the master plan, including guidelines that encourage district heating and cooling, as well as stormwater retention for on-site irrigation.


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