Learning From Where You Live: Q&A with Ray Gastil

"Architecture is Telling Stories About How We Live and What We Want."

By Maya Henry Posted on November 14, 2019

This Monday, November 18 Ray Gastil, AICP will present the David Lewis Lecture on Urban Design to close the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture’s Fall Lecture Series for 2019. Gastil’s lecture, titled “Learning From Where You Live: Innovation and Connection,” will touch on his five years as Planning Director for the City of Pittsburgh as well as his experience in similar positions in Seattle and New York City. In advance of Monday’s lecture, COLUMNS sat down with Ray to learn more about his lecture topic and hear about his new role heading the Remaking Cities Institute. COLUMNS: What does innovation mean for architects and planners? One of the reasons that we [City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning] called the...

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A Look Inside People’s Choice Award Winner Presley’s Place

The First Sensory Space of Its Kind

By Jennifer Beck, AIA Posted on October 10, 2019

Presley’s Place just received the People’s Choice Award at AIA Pittsburgh’s Design Awards, demonstrating that there is a growing recognition of the strong impact design has on mental and physical health. Located at the Pittsburgh International Airport, Presley’s Place is named after the son of airport heavy equipment operator Jason Rudge, who originally pitched the idea of a sensory room to Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO, Christina Cassotis, through an employee suggestion box. That simple suggestion led to the design and construction of a 1,500-square-foot space that serves as a respite for travelers with sensory processing issues, and their companions, who may have a need to de-stress while traveling.  Pittsburgh International’s space isn’t just a room, it is an entire...

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Palaces for the People

How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life

By Emily Pierson-Brown, AIA Posted on September 12, 2019

Palaces for the People cover.  Image courtesy Penguin Random House. On the same day I received Palaces for the People to review, I wandered through the Carnegie Library Downtown & Business on my lunch hour. A whiteboard faced the front door advertising the month’s events. Book clubs, reading lists, support groups. Men and women in suits mingled with the less well-heeled to browse the new book tables and utilize the free WiFi. In Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg (who also authored a previous work of social history chronicling the Chicago heat wave of 1995 that inspired this book) advocates for stronger “social infrastructure,” of which the library is a prime example. The author defines social infrastructure as “the physical...

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When Architects Give Back, Part 2

How Architecture Firms Support Volunteerism

By Maya Henry, COLUMNS editor Posted on September 5, 2019

AE Works employees show off their CANstruction structure.  With the support of local business partners, AE Works has donated over 6,000 cans of food during this annual event Volunteerism is an integral part of the architecture profession whether it is through individual architects’ efforts to give back in their own communities or ingrained in firm culture. In this article we take a closer look at different ways two firms make community support integral to their bottom line. This article is part of a series; read Part 1 here. AE Works: Business for Good The architects, engineers, and building consultants at AE Works think about how they are affecting the environment, community, employees and their clients in each project. To measure...

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When Architects Give Back, Part 1

How Architecture Firms Support Volunteerism

By Maya Henry, COLUMNS editor Posted on August 22, 2019

Volunteers from Hayes Design Group’s Adopt-a-Landmark program at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in May Volunteerism is an integral part of the architecture profession whether it is through individual architect’s efforts to give back in their own communities, or ingrained in firm culture. In this article (the first in a series) we take a closer look at different ways two firms make community support integral to their bottom line. Hayes Design Group Architects: Adopting a Landmark On Friday, May 17th, the Hayes Design Group Architects (HDG), headquartered in Robinson Township, held its fourth annual company-wide Adopt-a-Landmark program at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, a National Historic Landmark located on the North Side. Throughout the day, sixteen of the firm’s employees assisted with work inside...

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The Many Meanings of Architecture

By F. Jeffrey Murray, FAIA Posted on July 11, 2019

Mount Angel Abbey Library in Saint Benedict, Oregon.  Alvar Aalto, 1970 There have been many definitions of ‘architecture’; mostly written by and for architects. What matters to me is what non-architects think of architecture. Over my nearly five decades in architecture (education plus practice), I’ve recognized five fundamental definitions or meanings of architecture held by non-architects. Architecture as consumer product; about style, fashion, and entertainment (embraced by most media, and most media influenced public, and I suspect most of the public are deeply media influenced). Architecture as real estate; an investment product (embraced by real estate brokers, developers, investors, business media and most building owners). Architecture as useful tool; minimal functional shelter (embraced by many builders, engineers, and facility managers)....

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Designing the Front Door to Our Region

The Pittsburgh International Airport’s New Terminal Modernization Program

By Maya Henry, COLUMNS editor Posted on May 30, 2019

Arrivals.  Rendering courtesy Allegheny County Airport Authority Pittsburgh International Airport is undergoing a multi-year, $1.1 billion dollar modernization.  With construction to be completed by 2023, the design has been informed by a multi-year effort bringing stakeholders together to explore what designing a “world-class” facility really means to Pittsburgh. The new terminal is inspired by the beauty, tech renaissance and people of the Pittsburgh region. It is meant to be iconic, practical and affordable while also being adaptable as technological and transportation needs change. The necessity for a redesign comes as the airport transforms itself from a hub, appropriate for US Airways in the 1980s, to a destination-type airport.  The majority of travelers now originate from Pittsburgh, as opposed to passengers connecting to...

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Review of The Pritzker Architecture Prize Exhibit at the Heinz Architectural Center

By Bea Spolidoro, AIA Posted on May 23, 2019

Jean Nouvel, Competition Entry: Central Berlin, 1990, Carnegie Museum of Art. Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Influencers: The Pritzker Architecture Prize, is now on display at The Heinz Architectural Center recapping 40 years of the prestigious prize. Following a nine-month hiatus in programming due to the Carnegie International, this inspiring exhibit is a great comeback. The exhibit is smaller than others in the past with two areas of the HAC dedicated to the annual architecture summer camp for kids, rather than the exhibition alone. Still, the pieces on display are mighty, and the variety of the techniques presented is very entertaining. Founded in 1979 by the Pritzker family, the international prize is awarded annually to a living...

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Still Crazy After 31 Years

The Architects Softball League

By Maya Henry, COLUMNS editor Posted on May 16, 2019

The Cullen & Associates team in 2008.  Photo courtesy John Cullen. Imagine this. It’s 1985 and the first pick-up game of what would later become the Pittsburgh Architects Softball League is taking place.  Architects from Damianos and Associates, and L.D. Astorino & Associates are playing each other.  Syl Damianos, FAIA and Lou Astorino, FAIA are pitching for their teams, respectively… batter up! When John Cullen started the league in 1985 he never imagined it would last over 31 years, that it would foster so many friendships and that so many firms and principals would field players over the years.  It started so informally, with those first pick-up games and just a desire to get out of the office and have...

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Book Review

“I Like an Arch”

Review of You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn

By Robert Bailey, AIA Posted on May 7, 2019

Image courtesy Macmillan Several biographies of Louis Kahn have been written in the 21st century, but Wendy Lesser’s may be the most compelling. Lesser, a writer, critic and editor in the arts, founded the literary magazine The Threepenny Review, and has published both fiction and nonfiction. Lesser authored Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets, a narrative in which the quartets guide the reader through the composer’s life The Life of Louis Kahn is her first book with an architectural subject. Kahn’s story is interspersed with chapters describing what it’s like to visit five of his greatest buildings: Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Kimbell Art Museum, Phillips Exeter Library, National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, and Indian Institute of...

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