Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Should We Have A Panther Hollow Design Competition?

New York's High Line project took a space that was already there but that was rarely noticed or thought about and used it to transform and add to the way people thought about a whole part of Manhattan.

So, does Pittsburgh have a single space which with potentially small amount of effort and rethinking could be transformed in a huge way? An obvious concept is extending the waterfront parks--but this is already being thought about. Fixing and Allegheny Center is also a transformative project but no easy task.

However, the deep ravine in the center of Oakland is a place where the creation of a few amazing buildings which creatively use the rim, or a series of interesting paths or well who knows--could change the entire way we think about Oakland and all the neighborhoods that border the Hollow. Should Pittsburgh really try to ignore and evade some of the most interesting parts of it's geography in the way it's design does now?

As you can see from these images, soil erosion along large chunks of the rim is creating issues that must be dealt with anyway and soon.

What I have in mind is to hold some kind of design competition allowing an open ended contemplation of any and all ideas people might have for buildings, paths, ecological designs for any and all parts of The Hollow.

My personal guess is that many students at CMU, Pitt or the other schools in Oakland have drawn up an idea or two. Needless to say, this could easily then be tied to an exhibition at The Carnegie Museum Of Art and or The Miller Gallery. The Carnegie and area museums also have many paintings and historic objects that relate to this iconic yet mostly ignored urban space which could provide context.

No guarantee of executing or using any of the designs would be implied but most likely some type of cash prizes would be granted. Public voting on designs might also be considered. Using any of these ideas--would be a separate issue. The goal would be to invite all Pittsburghers and designers from around the world to publicly meditate on this unique space we should think about more.


Unknown said...

the west end has a high line ready to go & connect to my "island of steel"



John Morris said...

Honestly, I find this plan mildly interesting from a design standpoint but likely a total failure from a practical one. Highly unlikely a blockage to an already narrow shipping area would be allowed.

Added to this is just a failure to think about the place on a social level. how many people now live or work near the West End? I know there are some marina and other plans but this is a small and issolated area. How would people get to and enjoy this park? Would there be giant garages?

The cost also looks pretty extreme--even to do just what you showed.

Why not an interesting proposal for somewhere people already live like The South Side waterfront?

Panther Hollow seems interesting and important to think about because like Chelsea, it's in a central area for residents and jobs.Pittsburgh really doesn't need another park people drive to. Also, some significant actions are going to have to happen anyway to stabilise the sloaps and deal with storm drainage.

Improving the architecture and design around the Hollow would make the areas around it more appealing and attractive.

Unknown said...

mild interest is good... the concept is organic & would likely blend into it's context. the whole idea is to get you to the amazing view of the city thru the bridge, so everything else must support that activity.

there's a wide portion at this bend in the river & the navigable space between the main bridge piers would be uninterrupted.

soft costs are needed up-front... the proposal is potentially self-funded with a the plan to lease still-water marina slips.

'west-side' landing will connect the 'west' end & north 'side', like 'east-side' has with east liberty & shadyside.

yes, not many people live here, but it's a destination. the island, together with other attractions like our views & a 'high line' connection to the main street art district, would finally put the west end on the map.

the hollow is one of pittsburgh's best kept secrets & possibly more an issue of conservation than development... both are not mutually exclusive, so that could be a good competition theme!

nemo said...

as for panther hollow more money needs to be raised to clean it up http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10243/1083913-53.stm - and my vote would be to have a green space design competition for the area- pittsburgh has enough developed land in my opinion...

John Morris said...

After thinking about your West End idea, I can see some value in it. The river is wider there and the orientation around boats is interesting.

The much greater flaw is that it is in Pittsburgh--as it is now.

If Pittsburgh was the type of mixed use dense city-it could and should be--more like San Francisco this idea would be a geat addition.

The core problem is that, this concept would work very well if the North Shore was a dense, mixed used area with a waterfront park--even then this is a significant bridge to want to cross.

A--this would provide a large number of people living and working nearby who would want to use the park at different hours. This density would then support further development on the thin area of waterfront accross the bridge.

As it is now, the North Shore mostly a very underused area of stadiums, garages, a casino and other single use facilities most of which are not open much. There are almost no significant nearby residential populations.

The end result is to create a fairly isolated--attraction disconected from the bulk of the city of a type we don't need more of.

To prove my point, we can see that Station Square as it grows long in the tooth is loosing it's attractiveness for retail. People go--get bombed-Party up,which we already have a lot of.

What intersts me about Panther Hollow--and Panther Hollow's rim is that it borders on many dense mixed use areas--and could be easily be more used and appreciated.

John Morris said...

Rick, what I am mostly imagining is not major development in the Hollow itself but the addition and orientation of some more buildings around it--taking advantage of the views etc...

If you go around the hollow--one can see that any sustainable plan to preserve the ecology of the area cannot be disconected from the develpment and land use around it.

For example--there are very large scale slope erosion problems.

John Morris said...

David said,

"The whole idea is to get you to the amazing view of the city thru the bridge, so everything else must support that activity."

I'm really sorry, but I don't think this is a significant enough reason for such a major project.

Pittsburgh has many areas with great views--but that is just one aspect--and result of having a socialy functional place that is used and appreciated--all the time.

How many people will want to be here in the winter? In the case of the High Line for example--the area remains active and used even during the time when the park is closed or less attractive.

I suggest you read the earlier post about what makes great urban parks.

Creating tricky isolated attractions disconnected from the social and business life of the city does not help make a great city.