Historic review panel OKs Market Square makeover
Work on pedestrian-friendly project might begin next spring
The proposed $5 million revamp of Market Square got a boost yesterday when Pittsburgh’s Historic Review Commission gushed over the reduced traffic, piazza-type design and nicer trees.
“This will be a miniature Parisian square,” said commission Vice Chairman Paul Tellers, whose motion to approve was unanimously adopted.
The commission put one condition on its approval: It wants project architect Dina Klavon to meet with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation to discuss concerns about the closing of alleys running from the square to Fifth Avenue.
The foundation is spending $3.5 million renovating four buildings near the square, and some of the second- and third-floor apartments would be accessed via one of the alleys, Graeme Way.
“If people want to drop other people off, or unload things to their apartments, they can’t get there,” said Anne E. Nelson, the foundation’s attorney.
Also closed to cars would be McMasters Way. Cars would be able to enter the square using Forbes Avenue and Market Street, and could drive around its perimeter. They could no longer drive through its center.
“We’re trying to give Market Square back to the pedestrians,” said Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership President Mike Edwards, whose group is leading the charge to repair the square. “Right now, it’s a thoroughfare. We want it to be a destination.”
The redesign would replace the network of streets, curbs and raised tree planters with a flat, curbless surface. Commission members questioned whether that would be safe, but accepted Ms. Klavon’s contention that paving walkways with brick, plaza areas with terrazzo and streets with granite squares called Eurocobble would safely separate people from cars.
They also wondered whether “interactive” lighting that changes as people walk by it was really necessary to create a “wow factor.”
“The elegance will be the wow factor,” said commission Chairman Michael Stern.
Construction could start in the spring, said Mr. Edwards.