High Point Park

Pittsburgh’s US Steel tower boasts a unique feature untapped in the 40 years since it opened: a one acre flat space, 840 feet in the air, completely unused by the tenants or the public. Standing as the tallest structure in the region, views from the roof are as expected—long vistas to the horizon, Pittsburgh in the foreground and mountains in the distance. In 2009, David Bear, travel writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette proposed a public park for the rooftop, suggesting it would be a truly unique space for all Pittsburgh to enjoy.

The one-acre space makes a satisfying public park, but at 840 feet, the panoramic view is the real draw. But that view is only an asset to the park’s perimeter. Standing in the center of a one-acre space, the ground blocks virtually all of the view below the horizon. New program needs to fill in the acre space to make it viable.

The US Steel tower is a dark and massive tower, unchanging in character as it rises to its ultimate height. Most iconic and well-known skylines have a tower that makes the city known to the world in a single image. The Empire State Building, Space Needle, Eiffel Tower, and Petronas Towers all personify their respective cities. Pittsburgh’s dominating element is the US Steel building, but save for the large UPMC logo, the potential icon at the Three Rivers is blunt and headless.

Using dynamic media technologies, this proposal conjectures a destination park that instantly transforms the Pittsburgh skyline. Media Screens, supported by extensions to the existing Steel Structure, soar to 100 feet, broadcasting images to both park goers (as frontal projection) and to the city (as rear projection). They also act as windscreens for a new landscape, shaped to resemble the regional topography. The landscape is a cutting-edge green roof with superior drainage and water collection elements. Beneath the landscape, a 30,000sf interior space provides all-weather observation areas plus media technology related programs. The flexible space includes a 150-seat auditorium, restaurant/café, and open area for media production, presentation, and exhibition. Both indoor and outdoor spaces present opportunities for special events common to parks around the world, but made unique by the context. In warm weather, movies, concerts, performances all occur with the simultaneous backdrop of live and recorded images and long vistas. In cold weather, the acreage and topography allow for winter sports such as ice skating, skiing and sledding with a dynamic backdrop.

Pittsburgh has long struggled with successfully conveying the image of its emergence as a 21st century technology leader. High Point Park presents the opportunity to place media technology research and presentation atop the city’s icon of last century’s industry. Broadcasting to the region the presence of dynamic imagery announces the new Pittsburgh skyline as a changing and interactive experience.

Competition website: High Point Park
[Project Team: Pablo Garcia (Team Leader); A. Azoulai, M. Abraham, J. Soh, J. Koon, D. Chow, J. Pun, S. Harrison, J. Russo (Architecture); J. Peterson, A. Jain, S. Mishra, S. Agarwal, B. Wiewiora (Business)]

Existing US Steel Building
The existing US Steel Building, with a one-acre blank space 840ft in the air.
High Point Park Screens
High Point Park proposes media screens as a new dynamic feature in the Pittsburgh sky line
High Point Park Axonometric
High Point Park components. Media screens surround a green roof landscape atop 40,000sqft of new media production/presentation space
High Point Park View Interior Day
During daytime hours, the screens provide protection from high velocity winds
High Point Park View Interior Night
At night, the media screens create an outdoor event space, showing films or backdrops to concerts and performances
High Point Park Mediatheque
A 40,000 square foot Mediatheque, built on top of the existing roof, provides indoor programmable space and access to the green roof park
High Point Park mediatheque plan
Mediatheque level plan
High Point Park Green Roof
The screens double as the site of next-generation green technology. Windbelts (click here for company website), a speculative wind-capture technology, lines the screens to provide power to the entire building
High Point Park Aerial View
Overall view of High Point Park, showing screens, green roof and Mediatheque