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Pittsburgh Step Trek will celebrate unique step lighting project this weekend

At the annual Pittsburgh Step Trek this Saturday, October 6th, the South Side Slopes neighborhood is celebrating something new: the completion of a step-lighting project unlike any other in the city.

The neighborhood is covered in steps, which are necessary to navigate the hills that rise above the South Side Flats.  And many of these staircases are actual city streets where homes are accessible by foot only.  In many ways these steps define the neighborhood.

“It’s very unique and it speaks to the idea of how do you inhabit an urban hillside, and it’s a fascinating thing,” says architect and neighborhood resident Peter Kreuthmeier.  “I think they should be treasured, and they should be maintained, and they should be celebrated.”

So the fact that the neighborhood’s most prominent steps, rising above 18th Street, were in disrepair, unlit, and felt generally unsafe was a problem that needed a creative solution. 

As an Elm Street Community, the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association and the South Side Local Development Corporation developed a plan to light the steps, and use them as an inviting gateway to the neighborhood.

Now, five years later, the staircase lighting project is complete.  Each stair tread is illuminated by a linear LED fixture.  And projector fixtures, attached to cor-ten steel poles, carpet the steps in ambient lighting.

The lighting project was designed in collaboration with Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects, studio i architectural lighting, Klavon Design Associates, Watson Engineers and Baker Engineering.  It’s the latest of three gateway projects, all of which feature the steel alloy cor-ten, chosen for its durability and historical significance to the neighborhood.

“Cor-ten is just a very visceral material that resonates with the historic industrial lifeblood of the South Side,” Kreuthmeier says.  “It shouts steel.”

Duquesne Light funded the entire project’s lighting, over $120,000, through its Power of Light Grant Program.

The 12th annual Step Trek, a mapped hike through the neighborhood's numerous city steps, will take place this Saturday, October 6th, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Registration is held at 21st and Josephine Streets at the South Side Park.  The Trek features two routes, Black and Gold, which are 3.6 and 2.1 miles respectively.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lisa Kahle; Peter Kreuthmeier
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