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BIG's Next Big Project is Actually in Pittsburgh

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BIG's new renderings for a development in Pittsburgh's Lower Hill neighborhood. Images by BIG via Designboom.

Through a series of high-profile developments and designs, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG have put their imprint on cities across the globe. But a new development in Pittsburgh, re-envisioning the former site of a historic arena and bustling neighborhood, may be one of its biggest opportunities yet to truly redesign the fabric of a major city. Ever since demolition in 2012, the Civic Arena site, former home of the city's professional hockey franchise, the Penguins, and the first retractable roof sports venue in the world, has been an unrealized possibility, prime real estate near the city's core.

The proposed development has plenty of historic significance for Pittsburghers. A mostly African-American neighborhood was broken up, and 8,000 residents were displaced, during construction of the Civic Arena in the '50s. The challenge for BIG appears to be finding a way to return what is now a parking lot to its former role as a thriving community, reconnecting what is now concrete lots to the rest of the city's downtown.

As announced earlier this year, BIG will serve as lead designer for the residences and public spaces on the 28-acre site on the Lower Hill, owned by the Penguins, including 1,100 residential housing units on the upper portion of the site, which will be built by lead developer McCormack Baron Salazar and Clayco. In addition to a significant number of new units, the project, estimated to cost half a billion dollars, will also include 632,000 square feet of office space and 250,000 square feet of commercial space. BIG was tasked with finding a way to integrate the new buildings with the surrounding neighborhoods and the plaza in front of Consol Energy Center, the new Penguins arena built on an adjacent site.

The site's topology, which varies in height by roughly 140 feet, presents a challenge, one of many that have popped up over the last year. U.S. Steel, initially set to be a lead tenant, dropped out of the development last week amid poor financial performance, and the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority failed to secure federal funding for the redevelopment.

With a series of just-released renderings, BIG, along with partners West 8 and Atelier Ten, envision a series of sloped pathways that take advantage of the site's natural typography and link it with the surrounding neighborhoods. Surrounded by terraced buildings that ring the site like an amphitheater, the 28-acre master plan suggests offers a series of buildings that are not only integrated with the area, but have a strong inward focus on new public space.
· Architect Bjarke Ingels Builds in Manhattan, But Buys in Dumbo [Curbed New York]
· Get a Drone's-Eye View of Bjarke Ingels's Tetrahedron [Curbed New York]
· First Look at Bjarke Ingels's Undulating Apartments In Harlem [Curbed]