Beacon/Corcoran Jennison Companies, Pittsburgh, PA
Compact villages create intimacy and transform this once distressed public housing project
Allequippa Terrace, Pittsburgh's largest public housing project, was originally built in 1943. Over time, it became a badly-deteriorated and crime-ridden neighborhood, and was largely abandoned by the 1990s. Working with development team Beacon/Corcoran Jennison Partners, we transformed the grim project into Oak Hill, a new, mixed-income HOPE VI residential redevelopment.
Goody Clancy organized an urban design charrette with residents early in the process, working closely with city agencies and the Housing Authority. The charrette set broad goals and, more significant, helped residents overcome earlier skepticism in favor of broad enthusiasm for the redevelopment effort.
- To create a neighborhood that would foster a sense of community, the 83-acre site was subdivided into several smaller “villages,” each with a distinctive character related to its location’s topography and views.
- A tree-lined boulevard links all villages to a new “town center” with community services. A hierarchy of open spaces, from the town square to local tot-lots, each had a defined use and “ownership” by the community.
- A total of 800 units are in a variety of housing types, from one- and two-bedroom flats to two-, three-, and four-bedroom townhouses. Goody Clancy used variations in forms, materials, and a rich mix of colors to express the character of a successful neighborhood.
- A main design challenge was connecting the 83-acre site, built atop a former mine, to adjacent neighborhoods and major employment centers nearby.
- The development offers a variety of passive and recreational spaces.
- The architecture relates to the stick-style vernacular design typical of Pittsburgh's worker housing, but the buildings are decidedly modern.