A Decade Of Schenley Plaza: Ten Design Takeaways

SEP 19, 2016 

Sasaki Associates, Inc.

On a bright day in June of 2006, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC) celebrated the opening of Schenley Plaza.The five-acre green space is now celebrating its 10-year anniversary, and during the summer of this major milestone, I was lucky to be able to revisit the project that has played a key role for the City of Pittsburgh, and for me personally. When I first came to Sasaki in July of 2003, fresh out of grad school, my very first assignment as a landscape architect was to work on the transformation of the plaza. Thirteen years later I have managed numerous other complex, transformational urban landscape projects, but as the first one I saw from concept through to construction, Schenley Plaza will always hold a special, formative place in my heart and my career.

Situated in the heart of Oakland, between the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Phipps Conservatory, and the Carnegie Museums and Library, the plaza project was intended to restore the space to its historical function as the gateway to the larger Schenley Park to the south. In doing so it would replace a large surface lot that provided 280 parking spaces for area businesses, institutions, and the wider community. Naturally there were some grumbles over the loss of parking, but the City of Pittsburgh, the PPC, and the other institutions had a bold vision: "The goal...was nothing less than the transformation of this gritty, drab slab of asphalt into the green heart of Oakland." Visiting the space 10 years later during its anniversary season, it's clear that that mission has been accomplished... Read the full article