Monday, June 28, 2010
Preservation Pittsburgh has opened a design competition that Board President Scott Leib admits is more of an “ideas competition.” The group is looking for people to submit a proposal for the reuse of the Civic Arena that fits on a single 24X36 inch board. Leib says the designs should reuse the building to, “serve the community well into the future.” He says the Sports and Exhibition Authority has not done a good job of engaging the community in the process. The Penguins and the SEA had originally planed to raze the building and use the footprint, along with the acres of parking surrounding it, for new development. The structure is eligible for historic preservation which means plans to demolish it must go through a review process. Interested designers need to register on the Preservation Pittsburgh web page and pay a $24.00 fee by July 15th. Designs will then be due by August 6th. The designs will be reviewed by a jury of architects, Hill District community leaders and elected officials and then presented to the SEA. Leib says he does not think it will be too late to make a difference in the SEA’s decision process. He admits that the construction of the civic arena shows the best and the worst of Pittsburgh’s past. Leib believes the design of the building showed off new technologies from Western Pennsylvania but at the same time it displaced thousands of residents without much public input and stands as an example of poor civic design. Leib says it is important that the city preserves that past and finds new ways to use the structure for the good of the community.