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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.

Envision Downtown Needs Volunteers For 'Public Space Public Life' Survey

Envision Downtown is looking to the public for help documenting activity in the Golden Triangle.

With the help of Gehl Studio, the American arm of Danish urban planning firm Gehl Architects, Envision Downtown will conduct a “Public Space Public Life” survey on Oct. 21 and 24 with 60-80 local volunteers. 

The data from this survey will be incorporated into Envision Downtown’s Public Realm Action Plan, which will list successes and priorities for improvement in the area.

Downtown has seen an uptick in restaurants, culture and sports in recent years, and the area must better adapt, Envision Executive Director Sean Luther said.

“With a few big exceptions,” Pittsburgh’s street grid and transportation network has been unchanged since World War II, he said.

“I don’t think it’s about improving Downtown, per se,” Luther said. “I think it’s about continuing to evolve Downtown so that it meets the requirements of these new uses put upon it.”

The study will include many heavily-trafficked areas, including Market Square, Mellon Square, Point State Park, Liberty Avenue and Smithfield Street, Luther said.

The concept for the plan was born from the Heinz Endowments-sponsored P4 (People, Planet, Place and Performance) conference which took place earlier this year in Pittsburgh.

“One of the key takeaways from [P4] … was really that we need a better measurer of Downtown so that we can better establish what success looks like,” Luther said.

He called upon the public to help identify these successes.

“We need between 60 and 80 volunteers … to actually help us measure what’s happening in these public spaces,” Luther said. “That’s everything from counting bicyclists and pedestrians to actually counting how many people are using tables in Market Square.”

More information and volunteer registration can be found here.