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High school students develop and design ideas for vacant lot in Homestead

A group of high school students from Allegheny County have been tasked with reimagining a vacant lot in Homestead.  And today, after three months of planning and design, they will present their concepts and drawings to a panel of architects and community development leaders.

This is the final session in an apprenticeship program, a cooperation between the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.  These two organizations have partnered for the program since the 1980s, allowing high school students with an interest in architecture to experience studio work and the design process hands-on.

The vacant lot under consideration is located at 7th Avenue and Amity Street.  According to Louise Sturgess, of the PHLF, Amity Street has become a secondary Main Street for the community of Homewood. 

Students were asked to create a design that connects the growing Waterfront complex with the historic Homestead community, using Amity Street as a connector between the two destinations.

Through a series of sessions, students have completed design challenges, a site tour, had discussions with prominent urban designers and toured professional architecture studios, and have presented preliminary site plans to architecture students at Carnegie Mellon University. 

Today, the 25 students will give their final presentations to an audience that includes professional architects and designers, Homestead community leaders, and representatives from the Mon Valley Initiative.

Sturgess says that whether or not students choose to pursue architecture in college, they have taken part in a valuable lesson on how community planning takes place.

“As adults they will know that they can become involved in community design decisions,” Sturgess says.  “We really open up their eyes to the importance of the built environment, the value of historic preservation,” and the academic training required in schools of architecture, engineering, or historic preservation, she says.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source: Louise Sturgess
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