“Uptown has great assets to build from – empowerment, innovation, involvement, culture, and connections – these things are already woven into the fabric of the community,” said Mayor William Peduto. “With this plan and a broad group of stakeholders to support it, the long-term vision to make Uptown as a sustainable and equitable place is within reach.”
The winning consulting team was chosen after a publicly advertised Request for Qualifications that resulted in 30 responses, submitted by groups representing more than 130 planning, architecture, engineering, energy, and community engagement firms from around the world. After evaluation by a core team representing the City of Pittsburgh, Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh, Oakland Planning & Development Corp., the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Port Authority of Allegheny County, and Sustainable Pittsburgh, the five highest rated teams were invited to submit detailed written proposals and to interview with the core team. Following extensive deliberations, the core team submitted its recommendation to the Department of City Planning, who will be managing the project.
Jeanne McNutt, executive director of Uptown Partners said, “The EcoInnovation District initiative will have a profound impact on Uptown’s revitalization. We are fortunate that the City has embraced this unique opportunity and is propelling it forward in partnership with the entire community. Accessible communication and robust engagement with all stakeholders throughout the process will be key to successful community planning, which is a great strength of the Interface team.” Preliminary engagement is underway, as Uptown stakeholders have been meeting since late 2014 to provide input on the scope of work for the project. This early engagement process culminated in a governance workshop in May 2015 that was facilitated by staff from EcoDistricts of Portland, OR.
Interface Studio LLC is a planning and urban design practice based in Philadelphia, PA. Their ability to blend research and analytical thinking with design and engaging graphic communication has been recognized with five APA National Planning Awards as well as an ASLA National Landscape Honor Award. To realize the full potential of the Uptown EcoInnovation District Plan, Interface Studio has teamed with Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Sam Schwartz Engineering, Mondre Energy, Sci-Tek Consultants, Ninigret Partners, and Duane Morris Government Strategies. Interface Studio Founder and Principal Scott Page said, “Our team is thrilled to begin work with the City and their partners in develo ping a strategy for the Uptown EcoInnovation District. This is a unique opportunity to create an attractive place for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive that is both inclusive and environmentally sustainable.”
This team brings significant experience in sustainability, economic development, transportation, innovation, urban ecology, and energy to this project, and backs that experience with expertise in the financial modeling required to bring projects to implementation. With a transparent and fun public engagement process, the team intends to build trust among local stakeholders and create opportunities for the community to have real authorship and ownership of this plan. “We are excited to be working with a team that is truly innovative in its approach to engaging the community in a robust, deliberative dialogue to shape Uptown’s future,” Planning Director Ray Gastil said.
Court Gould, Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh said, “Pittsburgh’s strategic investment in the future of Uptown is a watershed moment in lifting up the principles of sustainable development for lasting prosperity for the benefit of all neighborhoods. The choice of Interface Studio backs this commitment by deploying a world-class team to address social, economic, and environmental imperatives in this pilot effort to demonstrate the community sustaining impact of the new EcoInnovation District framework.”
The Uptown EcoInnovation District work is being coordinated with the ongoing transit improvement study taking place along the Fifth and Forbes Avenue corridor. Breen Masciotra, Communications Coordinator for the Port Authority of Allegheny County said, “Port Authority is pleased to collaborate with the City of Pittsburgh on the Uptown EcoInnovation District, which will lead to a vibrant and mobile neighborhood that also will reap the benefits of our proposed transit improvement project.”
The EcoInnovation District plan will be developed over the next two years, and will be an environmentally and economically innovative and equitable land use, mobility, energy, and infrastructure plan that will embody sustainability in all aspects of development; both people and place. The plan will launch with a public kick-off event later this summer.
For more information, visit the project webpage: http://pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/ecoinnovation. Meeting announcements and other project updates will also be publicized via Twitter (@PLANPGH) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PghDCP).