Equilibriums of Paradox: Pittsburgh's Urban Renaissance through Public Transport

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Virginia Tech


The city of Pittsburgh, PA has been losing population since the steel trade imploded in the 1970's. Every decade, the city lost more inhabitants and began to be hollowed out in the typical fashion of a Rust Belt city. For the first time in four decades, the city saw a rise in population in 2008. Indications show that Pittsburgh is becoming a successful post-industrial city. The average age of the population also lowered, indicating a brighter future. Pittsburgh recently has gained national distinction, being named America's "Most Livable City" by Rand McNally (2007), Forbes (2010) and The Economist(2011). With museums, theaters, a budding arts scene, and three successful professional sports teams, the city is brimming with urban amenities. In many ways, Pittsburgh has been seen as the example that other Rust Belt cities should follow if they too are to transition into the post-industrial age.

However, during the challenging economic times over the past forty years, Pittsburgh has missed out on investing in public transit infrastructure. If Pittsburgh is to continue to shed its Smoky City image and further its urban renaissance, it must invest in a modern, comprehensive and integrated regional transit system. The system will act as stitching to reconnect Pittsburgh's urban fabric to its riverfronts as well act as a catalyst for redevelopment of its hollowed neighborhoods.

This thesis offers a design for such a system, ranging from the macro scale of a regional network to the micro scale of hub station details. Each chapter examines the situation on a progressively smaller scale and the design principles in each scale's examples can be applied throughout the transit network.



Pittsburgh, transit, LRT, station