The community of Wilkinsburg is poised to transform several vacant lots with art and design.
Last fall, the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) worked with seven landscape architecture students from Penn State University to create designs for vacant lots
in the borough’s business district.
Designs feature pedestrian tunnels, public art galleries, tree plantings, and a corten steel pergola. Reimagined spaces include Gazebo Park on Wood Street and the Wilkinsburg Train Station.
The WCDC Art and Design Committee recently held a public review of these designs, all of which are available online.
Youth participating in FUSE, an organization that provides artistic and authentic learning experiences for urban youth, also worked with the WCDC and Penn State students.
WCDC’s Jennifer Alfieri says the Penn State students—who traveled to the sites multiple times from State College—were successful in engaging the FUSE youth in the design process, as well as the broader community.
“We really liked that they were getting the community input into these designs,” Alfieri says.
Additionally, Pittsburgh-based mossArchitects is developing a plan for the Penn Avenue Parklet
, which includes a performance stage, benches, walkways, and green space. Previous designs for the space weren’t well received by the community, but Alfieri says the current plan has gone through a successful public review process.
The Borough of Wilkinsburg maintains site control of each lot.
Proposals for the Penn Avenue Parklet, which is a high priority, will be presented to funders in the coming months. WCDC would like to see work begin at the site by the end of the year.
The greening of Wilkinsburg is part of a greater strategic plan to revitalize the Penn Avenue business district.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Jennifer Alfieri