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High School Students Present Their Ideas for a Vacant Lot in Homestead

December 4, 2018 marked the fifth and final session of PHLF’s Architecture Apprenticeship program for high school students from various schools in Allegheny County. After touring the Carrie Furnace site and Bost Building, the students presented their designs for a vacant lot at 307-09 East Eighth Avenue in Homestead.

Kirsten Compitello of Michael Baker, Nicole Kubas of citySTUDIO, David Lewis, a distinguished urban designer and resident of West Homestead, Sarah Medwig of GAI Consultants, Patrick Shattuck of the Mon Valley Initiative, Jessica Stuck of PWWG, and Daniel Valentine, a developer in Homestead, critiqued the student projects and commended them for their concepts that would energize the main street and serve the community.

The students proposed developing the following mixed-use projects in the vacant lot at 307-09 East Eighth Avenue in Homestead:

  • a laundromat with a café and daycare/after-school center;
  • a candy store with apartments above;
  • shops with biking and hiking equipment, a gym, and a green roof;
  • a community meeting space, greenhouse, and rental space for offices;
  • a community center with coffee and pastry shops, a library, martial arts studio, gym, and rock-climbing wall rising vertically through the three-story building;
  • a toy store with apartments above;
  • a collaborative community space and library with a green roof;
  • a restaurant, office, and apartment building;
  • a computer and counseling center with a deli, food bank, and library.

Their designs are shown in the gallery of photos below.

David Lewis reminded the apprentices that “buildings house human beings and human beings always house history and culture. The joy of being an architect is getting to those roots and giving them voice.”

When asked to describe their Architecture Apprenticeship experience in five short phrases, the students wrote:

  • Eye-opening; informative; worth missing school for; more than I expected; fun, even if you want nothing to do with architecture.
  • Immersive; valuable; educational/informative; decision-changing; perhaps the best opportunity I’ve had.
  • Valuable; learned about Pittsburgh history; improved my drawing/presenting skills; educational; rewarding opportunity.
  • Educational; enlightening; historical perspective; appreciate the city; walking tour.
  • A great time; enjoyable; eye-opening; interesting; fun.
  • Historical; kill two birds with one stone; informational; unexpected (in a good way); inspirational.
  • Growth; problem solving; challenges.
  • An experience (great!); educational; exciting; exposure; creative.
  • Awe-inspiring; building connection; creating interest; experiencing design; learning about green and clean design.
  • Historical perspective; professional exposure; walking tour; Chick-fil-A—David Lewis; conceptual (the “big picture”).
Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

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