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Fact Sheet: Urban Park at the Academic Village

Overview of Point Park's new, dynamic outdoor space

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Architect: Tasso Katselas Associates, Inc. (TKA); Pittsburgh, PA.

Landscape Architect: Klavon Design Associates; Pittsburgh, PA.

Contractor: Massaro Corporation; Pittsburgh, PA.

Project Engineer: BDA Engineering, Inc.

University Architect/Planner: Elmer BurgerII, AIA, LEED AP BD&C

Park Cost/Funding:  The total cost for the Park is $6.6 million. $3.25 million was provided from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and $250,000 was supplied from the Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund.  The remainder of the funding provided by the following foundations:

  • Buhl Foundation
  • Colcom Foundation
  • The Heniz Endowments
  • Hillman Foundation
  • Laurel Foundation

A generous anonymous donor also contributed to the establishment of the Park.   

Park size: 12,000 SF or .275 acre.  The infield at PNC Park would fit into the Urban Park (if you include Wood Street and the Boulevard)

Canopy of trees: Urban Park at the Academic Village trees were selected for their hardy features and beauty throughout the year.  The park features Dura Heat River Birch, a drought-tolerant urban tree that is upright, pyramidal shape, potentially reaching 40-50’ high and 20-30’ wide.  Dura Heat River Birch has a beautiful, pealing bark and brilliant yellow leaf color in the fall.

The sidewalk trees are Frontier Elm, also a hardy urban street tree, pyramidal in shape with the potential to reach 35-40’ high and 15-25’ wide.  The trees have vibrant red leaves in fall. 

Plantings: Vines (planted by each colonnade): Climbing Hydrangea. Planting beds: Daffodil and Big Blue Liriope

Glass stair tower:   Illuminated at night from within (white fluorescent lighting, white walls), the stair tower features frosted glass to diffuse light sources and reduce light pollution.  Four shades of tinted glass arranged in a pattern were designed to imply a waterfall below. The stair tower was designed as a distinct counter to the turn of the century architecture. All the glass featured is from PPG. 

Water feature:  The water fall features water that will spill out along the top and cascade down over very rough cut granite from Vermont in various shades of green.  At several places in the waterfall there are ledges which catch the falling water that falls into a small pool at the Park floor.  The water, which is re-circulated and treated, is lit from various locations including top, sides and in the pool. The storage tank holds 3,263 gallons of water. 

Colonnade structure:  The one-story high colonnade was designed to reduce the impact of standing near nine story high building walls.  Its design allows a person to feel more comfortable with the scale of buildings around them.   The structure also provides numerous places for small scale gathering. The colonnade is very compatible with many of the first two floors of neighboring buildings, both turn of the century and recent construction.  Its materials and rhythm and scale of its columns are quite similar.

The restaurant:  A new restaurant (to be announced) will border the south edge of the Park.  Design considerations for the restaurant and Park included making both transparent to each other.  Maximum window area was provided at the Park as well as windows along First Avenue and Wood Street.  The large windows along the Park can open in mild weather to provide view and ventilation to the restaurant.  Maximum openings were made between the original 100 Wood Street building and the colonnade portion of the restaurants.  At night the lights of the restaurant will act as a draw for activity in the Park.

Seating, benches:   Seating is both fixed and moveable.  The Park is bordered on the north and west sides by a stone wall that is set at a comfortable seating height and is wide enough to accommodate people sitting on both sides.  The moveable furniture is a combination of café chairs and tables as well as lounge chairs.  All of these are moveable for varied arrangements.  The restaurant will also have its own tables and chairs for dining.

Hardscape:  Hardscape paving in the Park consists of clay pavers (43,530 total) and concrete.  Park furniture and equipment is made of recycled material, either metal or plastic.  

All the steel used in the Urban Park at the Academic Village came from within 500 miles of Pittsburgh and was fabricated in Johnstown, PA. 

Urban Park at the Academic Village Fun Fact:   Old vaults below many of the buildings bordering the Park were a design and construction consideration throughout the building processMost buildings built in the city around the turn of the 20th century had basement vaults that extended out beyond the face of the building above and went out to the street curb, allowing building owners to receive supplies through openings in the sidewalk.  Vault remnants are still visible through metal “checkered plates” as theycovered the lift that brought goods into the building.  Over the years, new uses for vaults have been adapted, including converting them into use for utilities such as electric transformers or gas valves.  Others are used for storage and some were vacated and filled in with dirt/rubble which was the approach used in the Park.