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-   -   PITTSBURGH | Development Rundown II (http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=196266)

BrianTH Feb 14, 2012 10:48 PM

I like a lot about that plan. I think the scale of the apartment buildings is appropriate, the boulevard to the river thing and end-treatment of the Produce Terminal looks pretty cool, and the riverfront park should be nice.

But I don't really get the townhouse row, and I agree there is still way too much surface parking, particularly on the Downtown end.

glowrock Feb 15, 2012 3:08 AM

Look, that master plan is taking up many, many solid blocks of surface parking, and is going to greatly improve overall density of both office and residential in the Strip District. While I of course agree that too much surface parking will remain, it's so much better than the wasteland of asphalt that's there right now it's not even funny. And remember, this is a master plan that I'm sure is open to some revision. Perhaps if Buncher feels that additional density can add to their bottom line, they'll do just that?

Aaron (Glowrock)

themaguffin Feb 15, 2012 3:24 AM

I think that the development would be particularly good further down (east) the Strip.

As mentioned, adjacent to downtown should use the space better. It's largely a blank slate as close to downtown as one could get. At least one apartment building of some moderate height should be part of the plan. Ideally on the scale of the newer apartment building a few blocks up in the Cultural District, even if smaller something that helps scale downtown to the Strip.

Jonboy1983 Feb 15, 2012 4:10 AM

My remarks about the Strip plan:

I'd hate to see part of the Produce Terminal building go away, but after seeing the extension of 17th Street -- and conversion into a boulevard at that -- I'd be all for that; it enhances the green/urban space and connects well with the proposed riverfront park.

I do believe that there could be more height/density to these buildings, as I've said before. However, I think adding substantial height to anything with the strip would put that/those particular buildings out of place with the rest of the neighborhood. Much of the buildings there are 4, 5, and six-story buildings and are mostly old factory/warehouse use that date back to at least the 1930s. So there may be some historical value to some of those, especially architecturally. Isn't the Strip declared historic?

BrianTH Feb 15, 2012 5:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by glowrock (Post 5591002)
Look, that master plan is taking up many, many solid blocks of surface parking, and is going to greatly improve overall density of both office and residential in the Strip District. While I of course agree that too much surface parking will remain, it's so much better than the wasteland of asphalt that's there right now it's not even funny. And remember, this is a master plan that I'm sure is open to some revision. Perhaps if Buncher feels that additional density can add to their bottom line, they'll do just that?

I 100% agree this would be a huge improvement on the status quo. However, the public also has some say because the URA is involved, a bunch of new public streets are part of the plan, and so on. Accordingly, we don't necessarily have to count on Buncher's self-interest alone for modifications to the final plan, and I think it is appropriate for interested members of the public to critique the plan in light of broader long-term considerations.

Urbana Feb 15, 2012 11:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrianTH (Post 5591172)
I 100% agree this would be a huge improvement on the status quo. However, the public also has some say because the URA is involved, a bunch of new public streets are part of the plan, and so on. Accordingly, we don't necessarily have to count on Buncher's self-interest alone for modifications to the final plan, and I think it is appropriate for interested members of the public to critique the plan in light of broader long-term considerations.

Indeed, I sent Buncher an e-mail last night pertaining to my thoughts on the project. I would encourage anyone to do the same. Talking about it on this forum is one thing, but I believe this could be a case where the public making their opinion known could have a meaningful impact.

TBone7281 Feb 15, 2012 11:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by glowrock (Post 5591002)
Look, that master plan is taking up many, many solid blocks of surface parking, and is going to greatly improve overall density of both office and residential in the Strip District. While I of course agree that too much surface parking will remain, it's so much better than the wasteland of asphalt that's there right now it's not even funny. And remember, this is a master plan that I'm sure is open to some revision. Perhaps if Buncher feels that additional density can add to their bottom line, they'll do just that?

Aaron (Glowrock)

That's exactly what I was thinking, though more tactfully put. Am I the only one that drives by here every day? It really is just a sea of parking lots as it stands now. Having anything there is better, and considering its proximity to the riverwalk/river I think a fair amount of green space (and the ability to see that green space without being right on top of it) is a nice touch. I understand this being a skyscraper forum and all that people are going to want a denser, more urban plan but :shrug:.

AaronPGH Feb 15, 2012 4:22 PM

I don't necessarily care about the density as much as I do the creativity of that project. It's so BLAND. If we are really going to develop something this large, do it right! This is suburban looking garbage.

Private Dick Feb 15, 2012 5:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Evergrey (Post 5590309)
I think Pittsburgh... from an urban development standpoint... is still traumatized by the steel collapse... and this is another example of a safe, unimaginative project that aims to appeal to mid-20th century suburban sensibilities... squandering the massive potential of the site.

I can dig it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by themaguffin (Post 5590473)
Downtown has a bookstore again?

Cool. Great to see stuff like this going back downtown.

Quote:

Originally Posted by markson33 (Post 5590645)
I don't know... the scale of the proposed development fits within the context of the Strip District. A larger more modern development might not look appropriate next to all the other brick warehouse buildings.

Buncher has never really been about great design or cutting edge development. They are a very steak & potatoes developer that is mostly concerned with return on investment.

I'm not suggesting 30+ story condo towers for the site (considering that it's not realistic for the Pittsburgh market anyway), but a couple of residential buildings the height of the Cork Factory would be preferable, if you ask me. And "larger more modern development next to all the other brick warehouse buildings" sure works superbly well in any number of other cities. In fact, that option is WAY better than putting up fake brick generic apartment buildings and offices made to look like old brick warehouse buildings.

Instead, it appears that we have Southside Worksy "architecture" to look forward to and what we will get looks to be far too similar to Pittsburgh's current lone waterfront living option -- the lovely, contextual Motel 6 Northshore... sorry, I mean Lincoln at the Northshore.

Also, Buncher blows (and licks my nuts too). It's a shame that they own so much riverfront land in the Pittsburgh area.

Quote:

Originally Posted by glowrock (Post 5591002)
Look, that master plan is taking up many, many solid blocks of surface parking, and is going to greatly improve overall density of both office and residential in the Strip District. While I of course agree that too much surface parking will remain, it's so much better than the wasteland of asphalt that's there right now it's not even funny. And remember, this is a master plan that I'm sure is open to some revision. Perhaps if Buncher feels that additional density can add to their bottom line, they'll do just that?

Aaron (Glowrock)

You're right, glowrock. But this is the attitude that has plagued so many of the redevelopment efforts in the former industrial cities for decades now. The idea and acceptance that "it's better than what's there now"... and "let's take what we can get"...

The fact that this plan is "taking up many, many solid blocks of surface parking" makes it all the worse, in my opinion. I'd much prefer just one of those blocks taken up with a cool project that Pittsburgh can be proud of, than having many, many blocks taken up by what amounts to cookie-cutter junk. What a waste. But that's become the status quo here -- just look at the relatively recent redevelopment projects around here.

We have these wonderful blank urban canvases begging for something great, and instead of stimulating fresh, creative, inspiring plans for redevelopment, we get this kind of boring, anyplace USA crap. But still, we see the plans and we say, hey, it's better than what is there now.

It seems that has become the collective thinking here and it stifles the demand for truly innovative redevelopment efforts. I think what I'm ranting about is what Evergrey probably better stated above. Just tired of the same old, same old in Pittsburgh.

Quote:

Originally Posted by themaguffin (Post 5591026)
I think that the development would be particularly good further down (east) the Strip.

As mentioned, adjacent to downtown should use the space better. It's largely a blank slate as close to downtown as one could get. At least one apartment building of some moderate height should be part of the plan. Ideally on the scale of the newer apartment building a few blocks up in the Cultural District, even if smaller something that helps scale downtown to the Strip.

:tup:

Quote:

Originally Posted by TBone7281 (Post 5591342)
Having anything there is better

Again, there is that disturbing acceptance that Pittsburgh really can't do any better.

And we wonder why we get the tacky and generic Southside Works, Northshore highway exit looking motels and office park, drastically out of place and underutilized Pittsburgh Technology Park, and the pathetic crapalicious proposal for the Civic Arena site...

... better than what's there now, indeed.

Quote:

Originally Posted by AaronPGH (Post 5591522)
I don't necessarily care about the density as much as I do the creativity of that project. It's so BLAND. If we are really going to develop something this large, do it right! This is suburban looking garbage.

Bingo

Wiz Khalifa Feb 15, 2012 6:38 PM

I think we may be overreacting quite a bit here people. The plan really isn't as bad as some of you make it sound. That third picture vantage point of the boulevard to the river looks great to me, IMO.

Just a couple of small tweaks like breaking up the "U" shaped buildings on the river into more welcoming designs and adding a few signature pieces of architechure on the remaining surface parking here and there would turn this into a very adequate plan.

I think some people just like to rant with the usual "woe is urban design in Pittsburgh" mindset and will always see the glass half empty no matter what the plan is.

Also, this is probably not going to get built all at once like some government housing plan, and will leave individual building designs to change to better ones over time as this development matures.

Private Dick Feb 15, 2012 6:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wiz Khalifa (Post 5591738)
I think some people just like to rant with the usual "woe is urban design in Pittsburgh" mindset and will always see the glass half empty no matter what the plan is.

Not at all... we'd just like to see a redevelopment plan that doesn't consist of faux-urban garbage for once that actually gets built.

RiverParc... awesome. Didn't get built.

One Grandview... awesome. Sputtering and likely doomed for massive revisions (read: scaling back).

Technology Park, Southside Works, Northshore, Civic Arena site... and now this? Can you really defend these projects as anything but standard and/or mistakes?

Wiz Khalifa Feb 15, 2012 8:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Private Dick (Post 5591760)
Not at all... we'd just like to see a redevelopment plan that doesn't consist of faux-urban garbage for once that actually gets built.

RiverParc... awesome. Didn't get built.

One Grandview... awesome. Sputtering and likely doomed for massive revisions (read: scaling back).

Technology Park, Southside Works, Northshore, Civic Arena site... and now this? Can you really defend these projects as anything but standard and/or mistakes?

Yeah that is a good point, I don't know why they couldn't have just moved the Riverparc design down the river to fill in part of this site. It seems to me that certain areas are treated to higher design standards, although buncher is probably the responsible party for the relatively unimaginative design here.

BrianTH Feb 15, 2012 10:34 PM

The buildings on either side of the 16th Street Bridge look about the same height as the Cork Factory.

As for innovative design--the beloved but unrealized designs mentioned above failed for lack of financing. It is fun to play with other people's money in our minds, but if those people with the money don't play along in the real world, what you get is failed projects and years or decades worth of delay in any development occurring at all. And personally, my top priority is putting these parcels to adequately high-value use on a reasonable schedule.

Of course I'm not saying we should automatically embrace the design of any project that comes along, and in this case I think there is plenty of room for constructive criticism. But we also shouldn't insist on a vision which cannot be realized in practice and that will leave much of the core area with low-value uses.

Jonboy1983 Feb 15, 2012 11:18 PM

Those are all valid points, Private Dick, and I'm right there with you. In terms of the actual construction of the buildings, I'm not very impressed. It is rather generic and boxy-looking. Perhaps if they were to put in some architecture that resembled that of that house on the Southside Slopes,or some architecture that incorporated more obtuse or accute angles instead of right angles (again, pertaining to the concrete/brick boxes that are dull and lack character).

The RiverPark design was awesome, and it is a shame that it never materialized and was shelved indefinitely. Maybe if we could suggest to Buncher to incorporate some of those designs into this proposal.

What is Buncher's email?

Urbana Feb 16, 2012 12:03 AM

:previous:

I sent my e-mail to the Real Estate Group

http://www.buncher.com/contact.htm

markson33 Feb 16, 2012 12:33 AM

It would be great if every development could be like Riverpark. I would be in favor of a mandate that any project that is over $50 million and receives government assistance should go through a design competition. That would help to avoid architectural travesties like Consol and Heinz Field and he Penguins development.

That being said, most projects aren't that big and don't go through that type of process. At the end of the day it is the developers prerogative to build developments that will make money.

Buncher will not be swayed by any emails that get sent to them.

Private Dick Feb 16, 2012 6:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jonboy1983 (Post 5592139)
It is rather generic and boxy-looking. Perhaps if they were to put in some architecture that resembled that of that house on the Southside Slopes,or some architecture that incorporated more obtuse or accute angles instead of right angles (again, pertaining to the concrete/brick boxes that are dull and lack character).

An attempt to "fit in" with the surrounding brick warehouse buildings -- and they generally stick out like sore thumbs in a bad way because they have that chintzy, "trying too hard" look to them.

As BrianTH pointed out above, I agree with him and understand the developer has the ownership and the money and therefore has the prerogative to build what they deem most beneficial to them (meaning most bang for their buck -- which usually results in crap in most cities)... but that doesn't mean we should be happy and accept what we're getting.

I'm well aware that we're not going to get the most groundbreaking architectural vision with a project like this in Pittsburgh at the current time. It would just be nice to see something with a bit of quality, soul, and impact.

Annoying case of a peer city in a "if they can do it?" situation... Take Cleveland's Flats/Warehouse District area for comparison... basically Cleveland's version of the Strip... brick industrial/warehouse buildings immediately adjacent to Downtown, many underutilized and undeveloped surface lots on riverfront property with a growing loft apartment/condo neighborhood and entertainment district. "Out-of-context" residential buildings like these two condos below exist among the old brick structures of the neighborhood quite well, if you ask me...

http://www.clevelandskyscrapers.com/...d/pinnacle.jpg

http://www.clevelandskyscrapers.com/...nk110611_2.jpg

http://0343.deltagroup.com/shared/fs...exterior_2.jpg

http://www.clevelandskyscrapers.com/...e071409_17.jpg
www.clevelandskyscrapers.com

... and this is under construction... a 20-story signature office tower and a W loft hotel -- the first phase of a development designed to provide a real connection between the flats, warehouse district, and downtown...

http://www.flatseast.com/images/phot...endering15.jpg

I mean, shit, that building's even got white AND silver metal and "high-tech fabric"!! ;)

http://www.flatseast.com/images/phot...ain-avenue.jpg

Nothing groundbreaking to be sure, but far superior to demolishing a 500-foot section of a historic terminal building (which is cool because it IS so fucking long and uniform) to put up a 4-story "historically-styled" office building and line the river with suburban-looking apartments. Just my opinion.

Quote:

Originally Posted by markson33 (Post 5592263)
I would be in favor of a mandate that any project that is over $50 million and receives government assistance should go through a design competition. That would help to avoid architectural travesties like Consol and Heinz Field and he Penguins development.

I second this.

markson33 Feb 16, 2012 9:04 PM

Those are pretty cool buildings.

It would be nice if Pittsburgh had more quality midrise architecture. So many of our developers think that it won't sell if its not built of brick.

Unfortunately its just not in Buncher's nature to do anything cutting edge. The design of their project is actually pretty aggressive for them.

Evergrey Feb 16, 2012 9:43 PM

I think Cleveland's Pinnacle is a pretty clumsy looking building... though I suppose it serves its purpose from a functional standpoint.

I was actually thinking earlier today about how lucky we are to not be Cleveland despite our criticisms of the Buncher project and other unimaginative developments.

THIS kind of crystallizes the challenging urban development environment in Cleveland these days... a landmark downtown department store building... to be gutted and transformed into a casino parking garage.

http://media.cleveland.com/business_...6648-large.jpg

And the Ernst & Young tower is... well... something. But while it might serve as some sort of segue... it's an isolated site for a tower and IMO won't contribute to the vibrancy and growth of Cleveland's downtown like a more centrally-located tower would. It's kinda like how you visit Dallas or Atlanta... and you see all these tall skyscrapers... but they are surrounded by vast plazas and parking... so there really isn't any "urban cohesion" whatsoever. They are vertical office parks. Pittsburgh, Philly, Baltimore, Manhattan, etc. have skyscrapers crammed together like rowhouses.

Downtown Atlanta aerial by Bruce Fratto
http://www.brucefratto.com/Friends/A..._RTNA7-L-1.jpg
brucefratto.com

atlantaguy Feb 16, 2012 10:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Evergrey (Post 5593586)
And the Ernst & Young tower is... well... something. But while it might serve as some sort of segue... it's an isolated site for a tower and IMO won't contribute to the vibrancy and growth of Cleveland's downtown like a more centrally-located tower would. It's kinda like how you visit Dallas or Atlanta... and you see all these tall skyscrapers... but they are surrounded by vast plazas and parking... so there really isn't any "urban cohesion" whatsoever. They are vertical office parks. Pittsburgh, Philly, Baltimore, Manhattan, etc. have skyscrapers crammed together like rowhouses.

The ONLY tower in Midtown/Downtown Atlanta that even remotely resembles what you descibe is the BOA tower with it's large plaza. Vertical office parks my ass - sounds like you have never set foot in Atlanta with this drivel.


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