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An aerial photo of the dedication of the Urban Park at the Academic Village.|Photo by Jim Schafer
An overview of the Urban Park at the Academic Village. Photo by Jim Schafer

Sept. 14, 2011

With drums, student dancers and the crackle of fireworks, Point Park University opened its new Urban Park at the Academic Village Sept. 14 before a large audience representing the many partnerships - local elected officials, state legislators, philanthropic foundations, labor unions - that helped make the $6.6 million project a reality.

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"Today we are here to thank you and to celebrate the official opening of the Village Park," University President Paul Hennigan said at the mid-morning ceremony.

The new park sits at the intersection of the Boulevard of the Allies and Wood Street, in the heart of campus. It features a stunning glass stair tower, a dramatic water feature, and an elegant colonnade. When trees and colorful plantings are added, the park will provide vibrant green space among the nearby buildings and streets.

The open design is intended to create a welcoming outdoor space for the University community - particularly Point Park's 4,000 students.

"For students at Point Park University, today is a fantastic day," Point Park senior Anthony Costulas, president of United Student Government, told the morning audience. "It is our hope this park will unite the members of the Point Park community and become a common ground for all future students of this University."

Funding for the park came from a variety of sources, including a $3.5 million state grant supported by the Allegheny County Legislative delegation, and many of those legislators attended the unveiling ceremony.

Support also came from Pittsburgh foundations, including a $2 million grant from the Heinz Endowments for a number of campus projects, among them the Urban Park design.

At the ceremony, state Rep. Paul Costa -- a graduate of Point Park who sits on University's Board of Trustees and serves on its faculty - offered words of heartfelt congratulations.

Video: The Urban Park at the Academic Village

Get a sneak peek at the day's festivities by viewing the video below.

"I can't tell you how proud I am … to be standing here today," Costa said, looking around at the park, previously a parking lot and before that, a gas station. "The transformation is just incredible."

Janet Sarbaugh, senior director of the Arts and Culture Program at the Heinz Endowments, spoke on behalf of the foundation community.

"We applaud Point Park as a key Downtown property owner for its vision in developing the Academic Village," she said. "We are excited to see Downtown Pittsburgh, with its great architecture, its important companies, its cultural life and its academic resources, continue very much to shine."

Additional speakers included State Senator Wayne Fontana, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Rich Stanizzo, business manager of the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council, and Ian Sulkowski, vice president of United Student Government at Point Park.

In addition to the student dancers, the ceremony included a contingent of students sporting yellow Urban Park T-shirts and members of the Green and Gold Society, a prestigious student group that assists with University events.

Hennigan also announced that the University is partnering with two local restaurateurs, Chuck Hammel and Tom Trimm, to open a new eatery in the first floor of the Point Park building adjacent to the park. The pair currently operate Cioppino Restaurant and Cigar Bar, and Osteria 2350, both in the Strip District.

"Look for their next great culinary adventure right here at Osteria '101,' opening March 1, 2012," Hennigan said. "We welcome them to the neighborhood."