Walter Hood is a man who literally sees the forest for the trees.
"Part of the history of Pittsburgh is people living within a wooded
landscape," says Mr. Hood, the principal of urban landscape and
architecture firm Hood Design
, and lead
consultant for the Hill District
. "With the Hill, our argument is that instead
trying to put development back into things that once existed, whether it
was industrial or post-industrial, we can create a vocabulary out of
this landscape, which basically owes its history to the rivers."
This concept of moving beyond Pittsburgh's industrial past, and instead
attempting to better connect the city with its far more historical
natural assets has been a major factor in the city's successful
revitalization. In the Hill District, where development in the past has
sometimes worked against this movement, many members of the community
are celebrating the progress of Greenprint, a series of ongoing projects
created by a partnership between Hood Design, Find the Rivers!, The
Parks Conservancy, and the Hill House Association, which will help put
value back into the land upon which the Hill District was built.
Leaders of these organizations announced several plans for upcoming
projects at an unveiling ceremony last week, which include creating a
walkable entrance to Cliffside Park, along with a new nature playground
and performance space. Another project in the works is a trail, which
would connect the northern perimeter of the community with its parks and
open spaces. A third project entails rebuilding the well-worn
staircases that connect pedestrians in the Hill to the rest of the city,
as well as the Hill's own landscape.
At the unveiling ceremony, Mr. Hood referred to the Hill as one of the
greenest pieces of landscape in Pittsburgh. This statement might raise
an eyebrow from those who don't live in the Hill, due to negative
outside perceptions of the neighborhood. Community members, however,
cheered his belief, and that positive attitude towards revitalization is
exactly what is hoped the Greenprint projects will reinforce, beyond
merely promoting a sustainable agenda and redevelopment of green spaces.
"We want to build on the natural and cultural landscape, but also the
(Hill District's) psychological landscape," says Mr. Hood.
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Writer: John Farley
Sources: Walter Hood, principal of Hood Design