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blueblackcat

public transit college lifestyle for downtown

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I cross the Liberty Bridge virtually every day, sometimes 3 or 4 times round-trip, and I always think about those 2 beat-up looking buildings that flank either side of it on the Downtown Pittsburgh side. So I have this fantasy vision of what I would build in their place that's in keeping with what I think the city should strive to become.

My idea is to take that yellow building and build a high-rise apartment building with walkways and skywalks that connect it to the Duquesne campus, the T station, and the bicycle path that goes along the parkway. Then you could add a small marina on the river with a water-taxi stop and a boat house that the colleges can use for their rowing teams and boat clubs.

I think this would create almost a "hub" for activities that the residents can do without ever needing to drive a car. The T even takes you to the mall, the water taxis would even let you go directly to a Pirates game. They would be able to walk to class at Duquesne from a skywalk near the roof, plus short walking distance to Point Park College and the Art Institute, or to work at PNC and downtown. Or they could ride their bike to see friends in Oakland.

The underlying idea is to help out our public transit system by not only placing more housing within reach of each station/stop and making them multimodal, but to create housing that allows the residents to do the proverbial 80% of everything they ever want to do without even needing a car.

I know it's kind of a grand project for just a building, but i think it would offer the best of what new urbanism can do for us, and I think it's better for all those kids who can't find a closer apartment thann Washington Place and other buildings downtown that would be better suited to the "young proffesionals" crowd.

Actually, I have been fascinated with the Minneapolis Skyway since the first time I heard of it and I always tried to think of how we could have something like it in Pittsburgh to solve some of our own problems. Take a look at some of these really cool photos.

Minneapolis Skyway Photos

here is a map showing just how extensive the whole system is

Skyway map

according to Wikipedia, their skyway encompases about 62 blocks while Pittsburgh's is a much smaller but still notable 16 blocks.

Wikiprdia - Skyway

-blue black cat

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Nice links on the skyway BBC,

I too would like to see them get a damned mass transit link up and running to Oakland and beyond already, my close second would be the airport.

California University in the Steel Valley (yes folks the FIRST University with the name California!) has just gotten the green light on an extensive maglev skyway.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-re...s/s_143152.html

Cal U will have a system with close to 5 miles of track soon, that area could cover a quick link from CMU to Pitt to the Pete and to Carlow and then on to Duquesne and Steel Plaza, why isn't Pittsburgh getting on board with this?

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Pittsburgh has a skyway? I have no clue where this is... Anyone got a map? Or something? LOL

As for the Cal U maglev... who is paying for that? I'd love to see even a small maglev in the city, but money is always an issue.

I like your idea blueblack. How come random people who don't have the money or power are the ones who come up with great ideas for the city? Sigh.

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The building between the Liberty Bridge and the T tracks is going to be converted into student housing for the Art Institute. It is supposed to open in time for the 2007 school year. I'd imagine they'll redo the windows and repoint the brink so it'll probably look pretty cool when they're done.

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Skyways are dazzling, but I don't like them because they discourage street-level pedestrian traffic... and in turn decrease street-level vitality and retail activity.

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Excellent point Evergrey, however in the built up and space challendged area in the University District (Oakland) a skyway might be the only quick way to provide a T-link, they could make the stations as street accessible as possible though.

Good info tooluther, I was totally unaware of the plans for that structure. That is going to look great!

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Skyways are dazzling, but I don't like them because they discourage street-level pedestrian traffic... and in turn decrease street-level vitality and retail activity.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That may be true about the need to have lots of street level pedestrians, but skyways and wlakways and tunnels (which PGH has a few of, too) don't always have to limit that IMO. One thing about Pittsburgh is that the climate isn't so extreme that we need an all-encompassing environmentally sealed system.

What we have, though, are quite a few "trouble spots" where traffic is so heavy or those areas that are purely infastructure so wide that there isn't really a nice way to get around it or through it without discouraging pedestrians. The other thing we have, as the remaining inclines attest to, is rugged terrain for pedestrians to navigate. A skyway to the roof from Duquesne University, an elevator ride down, and a pedestrian tunnel to go under crosstown blvd and gain access to Downtown was one of my ideas that I don't think would limit street level pedestrians. The other thing we have is the inkling of a subway system that's struggling to compete against environmentally sealed automobiles, and for what it's worth the "reach" of each T-link should be expanded as much as possible. I'm already spotting airconditioners going on top of bus shelters around the city, so I think there are definitely people out there with a similar mindset, which frankly in all my nerdiness thrills me.

Rain is the only big weather problem most of the year, and just a simple roof or an eavesment would be nice in some areas that need to accomodate pedestrians. Wouldn't it be cool to have kind of like a decorative acrylic roof over some of the pedestrian crossings on, say, Grant Street? It might even be effective at preventing ice on the asphalt where people walk into the street in winter, too. A lot of the buildings themselves already provide eavesments to walk under for their block, so creating skyways isn't the only desireable solution here.

Or maybe an acrylic roof with minimum visual impact over the sidewalks on Smithfield Bridge and then over the huge street crossing to get into Downtown? I really like that idea too, if you've ever had to run across the bridge during a downpour. IT's a beautiful pedestrian crossing, so long as the weather's nice. That and similar things would surely help out those coffee houses and copy shops on Smithfield St et all and encourage at least a few owners to convert more buildings into apartments.

-blue black cat

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Also it's good to hear that someone does have a plan for a few of those buildings next to Liberty Bridge. I hope they put neon-light accents on the roofline and stuff! Hey it's the Art Institute.

-blue black cat

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Not sure how roofs over pedestrian crossings would work. It sounds good, but once you consider the various obstacles... Like big trucks needing to be able to pass under it... It may not be worth it.

Would work on a bridge though.

Yes I hope Art Institute makes the building look very nice. But I'll just be glad to see an old building fixed up.

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Not sure how roofs over pedestrian crossings would work. It sounds good, but once you consider the various obstacles... Like big trucks needing to be able to pass under it... It may not be worth it.

Would work on a bridge though.

Yes I hope Art Institute makes the building look very nice. But I'll just be glad to see an old building fixed up.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think they could be high enough :-D. Vegas has escalators going onto walkways across every single intersection on the strip, so technically I think that qualifies it as 5 miles of hybrid skyway, except when I was there half of them were out of order and it sucked climbing stairs in the desert sun. So I'm thinking covered walkways are basically simpler. For anything that you'd need to cut powerlines to pass it through, they could be temporarily removed.

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I agree BlueBlack, if done right with respect to street level business and pedestrian shoppers etc. some skyways can be very very useful especially in the dense downtown and University districts (oakland).

Here is a map of the Downtown skyways currently in use (in green):

pghped.GIF

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