CONVENTION CENTER RIVERFRONT PLAZA
The concept of a riverfront connection to Pittsburgh 's Convention Center was introduced in 1996 when the Convention Facilities Needs Assessment Task Force presented its recommendations for expansion of the old Center. Along with tripling the amount of exhibition space, building a grand ballroom and increasing the number of hotel rooms, the task force also stressed the importance of a riverside entrance and a direct connection to the shoreline.
These recommendations became the objectives of an international design competition in 1998, and were embraced by Rafael Vinoly Architects, the firm chosen for the David L. Lawrence Convention Center expansion project. Vinoly's building design reflected Pittsburgh 's bridges with a sweeping roof and paid tribute to the rivers by creating spectacular water views from both interior and exterior spaces.
In 2001, the Pittsburgh Cultural District in collaboration with the Riverlife Task Force and the Authority, commissioned a study by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. focusing on the expansion of the Allegheny Riverfront Park on the south shore of the Allegheny River, including land in front of the Convention Center project site.
Van Valkenburgh proposed an extension of the water edge access by cantilevering out over the river in front of the Rachel Carson ( Ninth Street ) Bridge pier eastward, thereby establishing a continuous walkway to the Strip District. In December 2004, La Quatra Bonci was selected to complete the design of Convention Center Riverfront Plaza.
The Convention Center Riverfront Plaza plan has evolved since 2001 with input gathered from various stakeholders at a series of design charettes. Project limits are from the Rachel Carson Bridge to the Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge. The plaza will provide:
- A vital link between eastern and western riverfront destinations
- Additional public green space
- Areas programmable for Convention Center and city patrons to use
- Locations for both private and commercial boats to dock
The scope of work includes an elevated ribbonwalk, plantings and trees, and boat landings. This project currently is in the construction phase. More information on the current status of this project is available in the SEA Development Section.
Tenth Street Water Feature
In order to invite people in the Penn Avenue corridor to the waterfront, the Tenth Street Water Feature was constructed as part of the pedestrian walkway beneath the Convention Center. The walkway descends seventeen feet from the street to the river as it meanders through fountain pools. The walls surrounding the path flow with water, and uplighting creates an environment that feels safe and welcoming. The passageway to the river was designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects as part of the Convention Center; the water feature was designed by Crystal Fountains.
The Tenth Street Water Feature was built with private financial support from the Heinz Endowments, the Grable Foundation, the Hillman Foundation and the Laurel Foundation. Public assistance came from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Federal Highway Administration.
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