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Five finalists picked for riverfront designs

Friday, January 21, 2000

By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The Riverlife Task Force will choose from five consulting firms to help it draft a master plan for development along Pittsburgh's rivers.

The 40-member task force, appointed last June by Mayor Murphy, said yesterday it has narrowed its potential architectural and landscaping consultants from an original list of 20 contenders.

The short list includes one Pittsburgh firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and two from Philadelphia, Wallace Roberts & Todd and Venturi Scott Brown and Associates Inc.

The others are Cooper Robertson & Partners of New York City and Chan Krieger & Associates of Cambridge, Mass.

It was hard to decide which firms would be finalists but that was a good problem to have, said Davitt Woodwell, task force executive director.

"The depth of talent that the original 20 firms brought to the table made them all strong choices," he said. He said all the finalists have "renowned, worldwide experience" in urban and riverfront planning.

"Pittsburgh deserves more than a sporadic, disparate development along its riverfronts," said Anne Swager, executive director of the local office of the American Institute of Architects and a task force member.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson designed the Software Engineering Institute in Oakland for Carnegie Mellon University. It also worked on a study of what should be built along Mount Washington's Grandview Avenue overlooking the Golden Triangle. It designed a mansion near Seattle for software billionaire Bill Gates.

Cooper Robertson also has a local connection, having created a master plan for development of the Nine Mile Run area between Squirrel Hill and Swisshelm Park, where new housing will be built.

Chan Krieger has worked on the Old Port project in Montreal and highway projects in Cincinnati, Augusta, Maine, and Des Moines, Iowa. Locally, it did a plan for development along Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon.

Venturi Scott Brown's projects include student centers at Harvard University and the University of Delaware, libraries at the University of Pennsylvania, and museums in San Diego and Seattle.

Wallace Roberts & Todd has done design projects in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and waterfront projects in Norfolk, Va., Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis, Richmond, Va., Honolulu and Dallas.

A final selection will come in early March.

The Riverlife Task Force hopes to complete its design recommendations in 18 to 24 months. It is looking at development in an area bounded by the West End Bridge, Liberty Bridge and 16th Street Bridge.

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