What role do public art and urban design play in the long-term development plans for the city of Pittsburgh? That’s a question the Ravenstahl administration wants residents to help answer, and then implement the suggestions as part of a 25-year comprehensive strategy, known as PLANPGH.
ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH are two of the most recent components of the overall 12-part plan which began two years ago and is expected to be completed in 2014.
ARTPGH is intended to engage local, regional and national artists to facilitate care for the city’s art collection and also involve artists in public space and facility design. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says DESIGNPGH will develop a set of guidelines for future developers about the quality and character of design that is expected and feasible in the city’s neighborhoods.
"We want to incorporate good design, good art and make sure we have the opportunity to include all those things in it," Ravenstahl said. "When you consider it’s going to be a comprehensive plan, a 25-year plan, we want to make sure we do things appropriately, we do things right and we have that mix of not just good transportation plans and strategic planning, but also having a beautiful city that people want to enjoy and are encouraged to enjoy.”
The administration has hired Pittsburgh-based Urban Design Associates to work with city staff to conduct public interaction and the planning process for ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH. Maggie Connor is Urban Design Associates’ lead principal on this project. "The thought that cities wouldn't be strategic in how they're going to grow into the future is frightening," Connor said. "The fact that Pittsburgh is embarking on this, areal 25-year plan to sort of coalesce thoughts and visions around key components of a city's function is absolutely critical."
Mayor Ravenstahl says ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH are heavily dependent on public participation.
“We want to make sure the public has input, that they have an opportunity to communicate to us what they want to see happen throughout the comprehensive plan. This portion of it will be no different from the previous portions where we’ll have public meetings and hear from folks and incorporate their thoughts into our plan. The last thing we want to do is develop a plan without public input. We want to make sure that the city’s comprehensive plan is drafted and created with the input of all city residents.”