The Department of City Planning is excited to announce the selection of a team led by Interface Studio to provide consulting services for the EcoInnovation District plan in Uptown & Oakland.
The EcoInnovation District plan will be developed over the next year and a half. The plan will be environmentally and economically innovative and enhance equitable land use, mobility, energy, and infrastructure that will embody sustainability in all aspects of development.
We'll be having a big public kick-off event in February 2016, so stay tuned for more details. Also, check out the press release from Mayor Peduto's office about the consultant selection.
As we work with our community partners and consultant team to develop an engagement and public relations strategy (which will include a new project website soon), this page will serve as the resource for public information about the plan. Below you'll find background info on the upcoming planning process as well as links to documents that explain more about how we're proceeding with this initiative.
Who is involved with this project?
First and foremost, this is intended to be a plan by and for the people. The EcoInnovation District will have a great story to tell. The process of creating a forward-thinking plan can be a fantastic way of elevating the awareness and excitement about a place if people are truly, creatively engaged. Community ownership of this plan is essential.
Of course, to get us to this point we've relied on the expertise of a group of engaged stakeholders. Partners from the groups listed have been critical in formulating the governance structure of the process and consultant selection:
This core team has been working together since May 2014 to develop the framework for this project. The core team attended the EcoDistricts incubator program in Portland, OR to learn about the EcoDistricts approach to community planning. Together, with the concept of Innovation Districts, the core team merged these ideas into the EcoInnovation District plan.
Our consultant team, which will be starting work this summer, consists of a number of world-class firms. Interface Studio LLC is a planning and urban design practice based in Philadelphia, PA. Their ability to blend research and analytical thinking with design as well as their engaging graphic communication has been recognized with five APA (American Planning Association) National Planning Awards as well as an ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) National Landscape Honor Award.
To realize the full potential of the EcoInnovation District Plan, Interface Studio has teamed with:
To achieve all of these goals, while operating within fiscal constraints, requires proactive thinking. In short, Uptown needs progressive action and a progressive vision driven by those most familiar with the issues and opportunities.
Here's a graphic of the approach:
How was the consultant team selected?
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*, the five highest rated teams were invited to submit detailed written proposals and to interview with the core team.
The evaluating team members:
Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh
Oakland Planning & Development Corp.
the Urban Redevelopment Authority
Port Authority of Allegheny County
To get a better understanding of what we asked for from consultant teams, check out the following documents:
The Request for Proposals document is more detailed, and outlines the entire scope of work that we were asking consultants to provide.
What area are we talking about?
The area under consideration for the EcoInnovation District stretches all the way from Downtown Pittsburgh through the Uptown neighborhood and finally into West Oakland. Additional areas are being studied push further into Oakland in terms of transportation improvements and development/infrastructure financing (using value capture methods such as TRID).
The map below highlights the overall project study area in green (known as the "value capture" area). The blue hashed area is the Uptown focus area. In the focus area, detailed planning around land use (zoning), stormwater, energy, equity, economic development, etc., will take place.
Why this area? Why now?
The Uptown neighborhood of Pittsburgh presents unique conditions that serve to simultaneously inspire and frustrate those who see its true potential. While strategically located between the economically vibrant Downtown and Oakland (and across the river from the thriving South Side), the neighborhood has seen levels of disinvestment and deterioration that are not befitting such a well-connected area of the city.
There are several framing points that help to answer the "why here and why now" question:
An investment in Uptown, and the Fifth/Forbes Corridor that runs through it, is an example of our mutual commitment to communities that have not shared in Pittsburgh’s growth and recovery up until this point.
Uptown presents the ability to build from the market strengths of Downtown and Oakland while supporting grassroots efforts being led by residents, entrepreneurs, and local institutions throughout the neighborhood.
The EcoInnovation District will reflect next generation technology, human-centric innovation, and advanced sustainability practices in all aspects of its development.
Ongoing discussion of transit investments is likely to drive positive development and is bringing attention to the neighborhood. Including discussion of a possible bus rapid-transit line.
Developing an environmentally innovative, equitable land use and mobility plan is a timely approach that addresses neighborhood challenges and builds on existing momentum across the city.
Collaboration and trust between all corridor stakeholders--community residents, institutions, businesses, and government--is critical for setting a framework for investment for sustainable growth in the corridor.
The processes and goals of the EcoInnovation district should serve as a model for widened deployment into other areas in the City of Pittsburgh.
When is this all supposed to take place?
The EcoInnovation District plan will be developed over the next year and a half, with a great deal of public interaction over that time period. Of course, there will be traditional neighborhood meetings, but we will also be employing many other methods of community engagement, such as social media, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, pop-up events, and more. The public interaction phase of the plan will launch with a kick-off event in February 2016--stay tuned for more info.