Str2p District imagines that what today is a huge vacant lot in Pittsburgh’s mercantile Strip District becomes an ecologically-minded mixed-use housing development for young commuters.
The project derives from a deep understanding of the site; both its natural and built characteristics. We started the project by analyzing both the street grids and the flood zones, from which the overall organization of the project arose. This new, second “grid” (hence, Str2p) seeks to take the many layers of the site into account, which is why it is also shifted south to capture the best sunlight for the housing units.
This analysis resulted in a few key moves. The portions of the site within the hundred-year flood zone were reserved for parkland and leisure space, with the topography manipulated so that not only flooding but even the daily rise and fall of the river is made manifest to residents. The parkland consists of constructed wetlands and bioswales, which filter stormwater and greywater and seek to restore the natural riparian zone along the Allegheny. We also decided to carefully cut the historic Produce Terminal building to offer access points through the Str2p and Strip Districts, while maintaining its structure and the rest of the building as a kind of public market and gathering space.
The housing units themselves are phased so as to be imminently customizable and adaptable to the needs of different residents. We developed modules of differing dimensions and functions and used the modules to design prototypical apartment layouts for a single person, a couple, and a new family. Our idea is that the development starts as a basic floor area that grows over time with its residents and their families. In this way each building on the site is unique and, ultimately, crafted more by its inhabitants than the architects. The entire first (ground) floor of each housing unit building consists of retail space to link it to the commercial character of the surrounding neighborhood and provide a reason for people who do not live in the Str2p District to come visit and socialize.