The Civic Arena is just screaming to get a post on this blog. Great building, great icon of Pittsburgh, great sports team inside it.
The current argument is, ‘It may ultimately be the best decision to demolish it, but let’s not rush it. Let’s take the time to make sure there’s not a good solution to develop in and around it.”
Alright, I may not agree with demolishing it next Tuesday. I suppose I’d rather see it standing than see asphalt for the three-plus years it will take all development parties involved to start any sort of new building project. Given the forceful opposition to progress in this city though, lets make that five-plus years.
The historical photos seen below are emotional, wonderful, inspiring, and makes one wish for a moment that the igloo would be around forever with that wonderful view opened up to the city’s skyline.
Then all of a sudden, I see the reaction of people to the new arena. Now, I know that the reaction of Yinzers going to see Paul McCartney is different than a designer’s point of view, because the new arena is pretty uninspiring from the exterior. However its interesting to see how quickly the Civic Arena became the used up toy that doesn’t flash as bright or make as much noise as the new toy…
I’ll keep my thoughts brief on what I actually think should happen. I’ve thought of them in list form, so I’m writing them that way.
-The land that this building occupies is the most important development land that any of us may ever see in Pittsburgh in our lifetimes. It can become the only true live-work district in the city, and be the catalyst for real revitalization of the downtown residential markets.
-I will be absolutely, positively stunned if any architect or developer comes up with any redevelopment proposal of the Arena itself that not just looks good, but can generate real revenue. It just doesn’t happen in buildings like this one. Money trumps ideas.
-If politicians, neighborhood groups, or anyone not designing or holding the development money have too much say, it will be a colossal failure and will never reach its potential in terms of what this NEEDS to be for Pittsburgh. This area is bigger than the revitalization of the Hill District. Its the catalyst for the growth of Pittsburgh.
-Probable timeline for the beloved Igloo: Whine, whine, whine, get a demo delay, find no profitable use, whine, demolition, big whine, urban planning, political influence, two years pass, and in 5-7 years the creation of the best district the city has ever seen. A whole new neighborhood is formed and becomes the only area of this city that resembles a progressive, large city district that will attract people back downtown to live, work, and play.
That’s what I hope, at least.
Edit: After reading the comment posted, I’m hoping that I did not come across at elitist in this post. Given my love of Rural Studio’s work and many other small neighborhood initiatives, I clearly do view architecture a social art. I absolutely do feel like the Hill District residents should benefit and be influential in the redevelopment of this area. I wouldn’t even disagree if the Hill residents were ultimately the ones to make the final decision if the Arena was demolished or not.
Although there is a surplus of open office and residential space in downtown currently, my belief is that this is due to a lack of basic amenities provided by the area. That goes to my point as to how important this area is – it can provide a new level of density that can house amenities that residential markets long for, and could spark a shift in population back towards the downtown triangle area.
Back to the Hill residents – I don’t think they should be the ONLY ones deciding what will be redeveloped here. For one, its too important of an area for downtown, to link back in to the Hill and recreate that neighborhood. Secondly, I can’t take a stance that says that communities can tell developers where and how to spend their money. If I was investing my own money here, I would have an understanding that I need to prioritize the community heavily, and make sure that the Hill residents benefit heavily from it. But I would in no way invest in the area if the community had ALL of the say. It doesn’t make financial sense.
I do agree whole heartedly with the end of the comment though: our mayor should be NOWHERE near this one.