Michael Baker International, a global leader in engineering, planning and consulting services, announced today the completion of Phase I (Element I) of a multi-phase, design-services contract to establish the infrastructure for the sustainable redevelopment of the 28-acre site of Pittsburgh’s former Civic (Mellon) Arena. This infrastructure reestablishes a street grid that provides a historic first step reconnecting Hill District neighborhoods that have been separated since the 1950s, with downtown Pittsburgh. It includes improved vehicle, transit, bicycle and pedestrian transit, provides for economic growth of the community and introduces features that support sustainable certification.
The site is located in one of Pittsburgh’s oldest residential and culturally significant African-American neighborhoods. In 1957, the Lower Hill was declared blighted and 93 acres were cleared of buildings and businesses, disenfranchising the community from the neighboring city. The Civic (Mellon) Arena, former home of the city’s beloved Pittsburgh Penguins, was the only structure erected as part of the initial plan to rebuild the area. Today, the site is bordered by Centre Avenue to the south, Washington Place to the west, Bedford Avenue to the north, and Crawford Street to the east.
Michael Baker’s master contract for the project, which is sponsored by the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County (SEA), incorporates preliminary engineering, final design, and construction-phase services. This relates to all streets, sidewalks, traffic signals, traffic control, signing, pavement markings, utilities, drainage, lighting and landscaping necessary to support the development of the site for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design—Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) certification. The finished project has the potential to support vertical private development consisting of 1,188 residential units, 250,000 square feet of commercial space, 632,000 square feet of office space, a 150-room hotel, and will include 10 percent open space.
“Michael Baker’s expertise designing and delivering innovative and sustainable urban infrastructure solutions that provide value to the community now and over time is one of our greatest strengths,” said Greg Cerminara, Michael Baker International, Pittsburgh Interim Office Executive. “’We Make a Difference’ continually by putting the experience and skills of our national network of colleagues to work every day for our clients and the communities we serve. It is extremely rewarding to be part of a project that is laying the foundation for the future of the city Michael Baker has called home for over 75 years.”
Of special significance are the 98 Michael Baker designed bioretention tree wells that are incorporated along the sidewalks of the former Civic (Mellon) Arena site to capture, control and treat the “first flush” of rainfall. Each well measures six feet wide by 20 feet long and are spaced 10 feet apart. The tree wells act as storm water retention basins, providing access to water that can be used by the plant or evaporated. Each tree well is designed to hold a minimum of 1,500 gallons of water.
The project also incorporated the completion of environmental studies and required clearances including: an environmental site assessment; Phase I and II archeological investigations; and a pre-final geotechnical engineering report. Design for all phases of the project should be complete by spring 2017.
Michael Baker’s subcontractors for the project include: Cosmos Technologies – drainage design; E&S design - utility coordination; John J. Clark – public involvement; Monaloh Basin Engineers – right‐of‐way research; Environmental Planning & Design – streetscape, landscape, and irrigation; Kim Gale Engineering – surveying; and Santangelo & Lindsay – street lighting. Construction contractor for Elements I, II and II-C is Frank J. Zottola Construction, Inc.