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By Diana Nelson Jones / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In the master plan for the Lower Hill District redevelopment, the Bjarke Ingels Group and its partners propose doubling the green space from the preliminary land development plan and creating eight structures of terraced housing to give residents in 1,200 units views of the city.

They unveiled the master plan Wednesday at the Consol Energy Center.

An extension of Wylie Avenue would end closer to Downtown at Festival Street, which is being built now to connect Centre and Bedford avenues. Each building of terraced apartments — 20 percent of which would be set aside for incomes between 60 percent and 80 percent of the area median — would have a courtyard and shared balconies.

Construction of the first apartments is expected by the end of 2016.

Connections to Downtown include a wide, zig-zagging footpath that reduces the 14 percent grade to about 5 percent for accessibility, said Kai-Uwe Bergmann, a principal at Bjarke Ingels Group, or BIG, which has offices in Copenhagen and New York.

The $500 million project includes more than 1 million square feet of offices, retail and a hotel, with parking beneath all the buildings.

“My job is to prove this design can be done with that budget,” Mr. Bergmann said, adding that BIG has proven that around the world. “If you look at the unconventional and automatically add cost, you annihilate all chances to do something different.”

The design shows the meandering footpath network from Crawford to Ross Street Downtown, creating triangles within the grid for public use — basketball and other court sports, a plaza similar to Market Square, a large public lawn, a park to cap Interstate 579 and a rainwater feature that mimics a stream bouncing over rocks.

“Our plan is for any rain that hits our site to stay on our site,” Mr. Bergmann said.

The landscaping plan for Centre Avenue is designed to make crosswalks at sidewalk grade and widening sidewalks for more trees, seating and lighting, cutting lanes from six to four, said Jamie Maslyn Larson, a principal at West 8, a design and landscape architecture firm in New York.

The master plan follows three community workshops the Danish firm has held since being chosen to head the design project earlier this year. It is working with McCormack Baron Salazar, developer of the housing phase, and with Pittsburgh Arena Real Estate Development, the Penguins, on the commercial phase. A minority developer is supposed to be part of the team.

Travis Williams, the Penguins’ chief operating officer, said they are in the process of selecting a minority developer and finding a tenant or tenants for the site U.S. Steel backed out of earlier this month.

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626.

Date Published: 
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

 

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