BIG plans unveiled for Pittsburgh's Lower Hill district

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The project has an estimated US$500 million budget(Credit: BIG)

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Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled a masterplan to reshape Pittsburgh's Lower Hill district. The project is set to create over a thousand new homes, increase available public space, and improve connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians.

The 28 acre (11 hectare) site under development once held Pittsburgh's Civic Arena (home to the Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey team), until the arena was demolished and replaced with the nearby Consol Energy Center.

BIG, working with West 8 and Atelier Ten, has drawn up a significant plan including 1,188 residential units, a 150 room hotel, 632,000 sq ft (58,714 sq m) of office space, and 250,000 sq ft (23,225 sq m) of commercial, retail and entertainment facilities. A large green space will meander through the center of the development while making use of the local topography, and new access routes will be built to improve connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists in the area.

"The masterplan 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," says BIG's Bjarke Ingels. "The paths are turned and twisted to always find a gentle sloping path leading pedestrians and bicyclists comfortably up and down the hillside. 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."

The project is shooting for LEED Neighborhood Development (a green building body) certification, and though details are slim at this early stage, we do know that it will include an open-air storm drainage system that will reuse stormwater, in addition to a large-scale rainwater collection system for irrigating public areas.

The project has an estimated budget of US$500 million, and is being developed by Pittsburgh Arena Real Estate Redevelopment (PAR), an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Preliminary work appears to already be underway as a groundbreaking ceremony took place in March, but as of writing we've no word on an expected completion date.

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