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Students Participate in Architectural Design Challenge

PHLF hosted its 16th Annual Architectural Design Challenge with Westmoreland County middle and high school students on March 27 and 28, 2012 in downtown Pittsburgh at Point Park University.

Teams of students were challenged to create a model showing how both the Fifth and Forbes Avenue exteriors of the former Donahoe building could be restored and how the second and third floors could be adapted for new uses. (CVS Pharmacy is located on the first floor.) They were given the options of adding up to three stories on the roof of the existing building and were asked to envision a new use for the nearby “Skinny Building” (at Forbes and Wood) that would complement their program.

In creative, convincing models, students showed how a soda-shop, medical express center, or apartments, among many other ideas, could be created above the CVS pharmacy. Other teams suggested building programs for dance clubs, a video game center, a mini-glow golf course, and microbrewery and events center. Each group incorporated aspects of green-building design in their program and many models incorporated green roofs.

“We are so impressed with the creativity, poise, and teamwork demonstrated by the students,” said Louise Sturgess, executive director of PHLF. “Our staff and docents introduce the students to the design challenge during an orientation tour in the fall, and then the students spend five months brainstorming ideas, researching, developing plans, building their models, and preparing their oral presentations.

“We are always inspired by the students who become so invested in their work. Our design challenge gives them the chance to apply their knowledge and skills to a real-world problem: how do you find new uses for the upper stories of historic buildings in downtown Pittsburgh? What will bring people back to the urban center? Each team did an excellent job of analyzing and providing feasible, creative answers to these questions.”

“We thank the eleven judges who provided constructive comments to the student teams on March 27 and 28,” said Karen Cahall, PHLF’s education coordinator, “and we thank the Alfred M. Oppenheimer Memorial Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Fine Foundation, and the McSwigan Family Foundation for providing major support to PHLF, for educational programs such as our annual architectural design challenge.”

Click here for a list of participating teams and awards



Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633