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Identity & Community
Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

Danish Architectural Firm Chosen To Design Lower Hill Development

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AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
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Built in 1961, the Civic Area was home to the Pittsburgh Penguins until the 2010 season, when the team moved across the street to the Consol Energy Center. Demolition on the Civic Arena got underway in September 2011.

City and county officials, the Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis based-developer McCormack Baron Salazar announced Thursday the Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group will design the residential portion of the lower Hill development at the old Civic Arena site.

“Part of what we’re doing is going to be a mixed-income community, and there will be opportunities for lower-income individuals and families to live in the community, just like we did in Crawford Square,” said Richard Baron, chairman and CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar. “So the idea here is to be an inclusive development.”

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Credit Casey Chafin / 90.5 WESA
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Mayor Bill Peduto said he hopes groundbreaking on the development will happen sometime before the end of next year. He wouldn't specify a cost.

“They are known worldwide for having a very high standard of design,” Peduto said. “They’re also recognized as being a leader in sustainability, and they also have probably the top rank as a firm globally on place making.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he wants to make sure this is a community-driven project.

“There’s going to be an awful lot of community input that will occur from the residents, from the neighbors, from the business district that is there now, to BIG to help them incorporate the design,” Fitzgerald said.

Peduto said the recent renewal of the Downtown area has stalled around Smithfield Street. This project could continue that development, he said.

“Now, with the Penguins, and with BIG, we can see that same vibrancy go into the Hill District,” he said. “It’s a pretty big step.”

BIG previously designed a development to prevent future storm damage along the edges of Manhattan.

“We felt that it was very important as part of a ‘re-do’ of this area of the city, to have very special design,” Baron said. “And we’re very confident that they can do that for (Pittsburgh).”