Public Hearing Before Historic Review Commission on 4420 Bayard Street
PREPARED TESTIMONY OF
ANNE E. NELSON, ESQ.
PITTSBURGH HISTORY & LANDMARKS FOUNDATION
BEFORE HISTORIC REVIEW COMMISSION, CITY OF PITTSBURGH
PUBLIC HEARING ON 4420 BAYARD STREET, THE ELMHURST GROUP
OCTOBER 1, 2008
Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation has reviewed the Elmhurst Group’s plans for a new office building in the parking lot behind and owned by the First Baptist Church in Oakland. We appreciate the very good efforts of the Elmhurst Group in regard to the planning and redesign of the structure. In particular, the building’s height, materials, and setback on Bayard Street are in accordance with the other buildings on the street and harmonize the building with the Church. The higher portion of the building along Ruskin Avenue complements the Ruskin Apartment and its materials and to some degree its style.
However, we have the following concerns with the building:
1. The top portion of the seven-story building should be redesigned without the projecting central overhang, which is something of a cliché in modern design. We also suggest that the stringcourse be continued across the Bayard/Bigelow façade just as it does on the Ruskin Avenue façade and with the elongated windows eliminated. We believe that such detailing is inappropriate next to the architecturally-significant First Baptist Church, the Ruskin Apartment Building and the houses of Schenley Farms.
2. We recommend that the walkway around the building be planted with sycamore trees instead of columnar trees as shown. We would be happy to meet with the City Forester to discuss the matter of tree selection. A few columnar trees were planted years ago further west on Bayard Street and they are still nothing more than elongated toothpicks with a few leaves attached. Sycamore trees, used throughout Schenley Farms, arch up over the streets and provide a canopy of elegance, beauty, and shade.
We continue also to have a significant concern with the Historic Review Commission’s jurisdiction and ability to review new construction in historic districts. We hope this matter can be resolved or clarified so as not to cause issues with other new construction projects in historic districts.