UNDERSTANDING THE LANDSCAPE___This project began with a series of group exercises to gain a better understanding of the unique landscape of Pittsburgh's Lower Frick Park. Centered around the Nine Mile Run creek bed and bounded on the South by the Monongahela River, in the past this area was leased by steel companies for dumping slag; a by-product of steel manufacturing. Over time the slag dumping locations grew into large, non-porous plateaus above the creek bed, on which little vegetation is able to grow. The legacy of this area as a dump site has carried on to this day- over time accumulated debris has drastically affected the landscape. Despite this apparent abuse, many people from the surrounding neighborhoods use Lower Frick Park for recreation, creating a series of bike paths that extend throughout the site.
An installation and a transect drawing are two methods of studying the landscape. The transect across the creek bed and slag plateau reveals changes in elevation and vegetation. The installation, composed from a collection of dumped materials found on the site, became a circular structure- a focal point on the slag plateau that amplifies the use of the area as a dump site for a variety of discarded materials.
PROCESS WORK + CONCEPT___After studying the landscape of Lower Frick Park, a more specific site location for the Arts Camp was chosen on the Southern edge of the slag plateaus. This area offers a very interesting change in perception as movement occurs along the existing paths. The openness of the plateau creates a strong visual connection to the neighborhood across the valley. Separation from the urban context is perceived as dense vegetation and change in slope provides a sense of enclosure. Views of the surrounding urban condition open back up at the edge of the hillside overlooking the Monongahela River. This change in perception as movement occurs through the landscape provides the basic concept for the Arts Camp's architectural response.
Formal exploration led to the addition of a series of planes in the landscape. These planes define a hierarchy of programmatic spaces while reinforcing the directionality of movement and perception.
FINAL DESIGN PROPOSAL___The final design brings together ideas from earlier iterations by resolving the way in which the architecture fits into the landscape. Landform manipulation and planting around the series of vertical planes emphasizes the openness or enclosure of each programmatic space. A public art gallery is introduced into an intermediate zone, connecting the Arts Camp to surrounding neighborhoods by means of existing pathways. A language of folded roof and floor planes provides further definition of the building program, while not detracting from the directionality of the walls. Finishes of board-formed concrete, corrugated roofing, and hardwood flooring also reinforces a sense of movement and views across the site.
Status: School Project
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, US