Pittsburgh’s identity has long been defined by its industry. When it lost the steel mills that forged its 20th-century reputation, it became part of the Rust Belt, with a fractured economy and three polluted rivers. 
Today, thanks to a visionary master plan, 65 acres of green space line Pittsburgh’s downtown waterfront — all of it accessible to the public.

The Pittsburgh Waterfront Master Plan was a vision plan to energize and direct development along Pittsburgh’s three riverfronts — the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio. The firm was chosen to work with the Riverlife Task Force, a non-profit think tank launched by former Mayor Tom Murphy, to ensure that new private development and public investment could be implemented within a balanced and sustainable framework and designed to world-class standards.

Planners assembled a multi-disciplinary team of economic, engineering and landscape experts to guide and structure new initiatives within a five-mile radius of the “Golden Triangle” at the rivers’ confluence. New housing, water transit, and an overall balance of private uses and public amenities were reviewed through an extensive public process.

The resulting plan called for the rivers to become, once again, the center of Pittsburgh’s community, and outlined a vision to create a great urban river park, now called Three Rivers Park. With the backing of the Heinz Foundation, the Carnegie Institute and other Fortune 500 companies, Riverlife successfully directed public and private investment in Pittsburgh totaling $10 billion over the following ten years.

Today, two new stadiums, a new convention center, an extension to a light rail system and several corporate headquarters along the riverfronts have been built as a result of the master plan.


The Atlantic, “How Green Riverfronts Transformed Pittsburgh,” November 20, 2014