P4 conference focuses on sustainable urban design in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto today borrowed a campaign mantra — good enough is not good enough anymore — to signal it is a new day for development in the city.

“I think that really summarizes what we’re trying to talk about. The days of the city being in an abyss, going through a depression, going through a recession where any development was looked at as a positive are gone,” he said in closing out the two-day P4: People, Planet, Place and Performance conference on sustainable urban design at the Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District.

“We’re now going to be looking at the best developments for this city as we take it into the next era.”

The summit Friday focused on site visits and recommendations involving three of the city’s hottest development areas — Downtown, Uptown and the former LTV Coke Works site in Hazelwood, commonly known as Almono (representing Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio).

In their recommendations, the panels that studied the 178-acre Almono site on the Monongahela River and Uptown near the Hill District emphasized the need for inclusiveness, with residents of both being involved in creating development rather than just having a say in it.

One way to start at the LTV site, Mr. Peduto suggested, was to “stop calling it Almono and start calling it Hazelwood.”

There’s also a need for more mobility, whether that involves more bike lanes or bus rapid transit in the case of Uptown or simply better overall connections for Almono, with the goal being for people to be able to get there without using a car.

Downtown, the key recommendations involved prioritizing pedestrians and increasing safety with better signaling and more inviting sidewalks and streetscapes. The goal is “vision zero,” meaning no pedestrians are killed in accidents.

Mr. Peduto said afterward he agrees with the recommendations of the panels.

“They certainly raised the standards of development in this city to levels we haven’t seen. But they’re standards being done in other cities around the world,” he said.

Based on what was discussed at the conference, the city will be looking for developers who emphasize sustainability, inclusion, connectivity, and new technology, including energy sources.

“It’s just the understanding that development for development’s sake is not our goal any longer. But quality development that will enhance and bring with it further quality development is now the model,” the mayor said.

The two-day conference was put together by the city and the Heinz Endowments, with Andre Heinz, who sits on the endowment board, playing a key role. Mr. Peduto said the city will start taking steps over the weeks and months ahead to implement some of the ideas heard during the summit.

“The key thing is to follow the conversation with action when action is called for,” Mr. Heinz said.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette