“Pittsburgh entered the core of my heart when I was a boy and cannot be torn out.”
― Andrew Carnegie
Sorry for the long absence everyone but school has been intense this semester. I’m back now and will try to keep up better, I promise!
I’m a city girl, there’s no use denying it, and Pittsburgh is one of my favorites. There are a million reasons I love Pittsburgh (this might be a slight exaggeration…I haven’t actually counted) but on the top of my list is the city’s love and respect for its history. Too often cities don’t take advantage of their historic resources or simply just don’t care about their history at all. Pittsburgh is different.
Pittsburgh capitalized on its industrial history in particular to fuel its revitalization post steel industry. This is evident in its wide variety of preserved neighborhoods and loft buildings in former industrial spaces. It continues in this vein today, with projects like Market Square Place. I stumbled across an interview with John Martine from the firm Strada, who designed this project, on the National Trust site recently (http://blog.preservationnation.org/2012/12/12/open-for-business-again-at-pittsburghs-market-square-place/#.UMtBeIUteqB). The article also includes a video with some great statistics and visuals, so I highly suggest you check it out. If you don’t know about Market Square Place, go check out the article, but I’ll give you a brief overview. It’s a mixed use project, including apartments, in Pittsburgh that reuses many historic buildings. These buildings are from different time periods and are many different sizes but they all form a cohesive whole in this exciting project.
I’m a nerd, I’ll admit it, and preservation, particularly when it involves Pittsburgh, makes me super excited. Market Square is no exception. I’m not the only one thrilled about it, though. This project has won many award, including from the National Trust, and it is LEED Gold certified for core and shell. More important and exciting than awards, though, it is a functional and beautiful new addition to Pittsburgh. Its success may spur similar projects in other cities. Its eclectic nature makes it a great finished product, as well as an exciting project to work on, as Martine mentions. He even describes it as a puzzle and who doesn’t love working on a puzzle? As an urban planning/design student I would love to work on a complex project such as this as opposed to a cookie cutter development we see all too often. The people who live, work and shop in these places also get to enjoy the unique spaces carved out of these historic buildings.
Market Square is an exciting project that happens to be in an awesome city. I hope it serves as an example for future developments through its combination of modern amenities and interesting, historic spaces. Pittsburgh, like so many cities, could have easily demolished all the buildings in Market Square, but instead it helped develop them through a public-private partnership. These types of projects are exciting and as a preservationist and future urban designer I want to have an opportunity to work on similar projects. This can only happen if people start to get excited about living and working in these spaces, which I think is happening more and more.