Featuring two riverfront park renovations, public art, and cross-river programming, the nonprofit’s vision for a Downtown and North Shore destination seeks to transform the way Pittsburgh experiences the rivers.
May 10, 2023 (Pittsburgh, PA) — Riverlife announced lead investments in a new vision for two historic parks along the Allegheny River. The organization has secured capital support to begin implementing its Completing the Loop vision plan, starting with the renovation of Allegheny Landing on the North Shore and the restoration of Allegheny Riverfront Park Downtown. Named the Sister Bridges Experience, the plan will create an integrated, cross-river destination connecting the Cultural District, the Andy Warhol Museum’s Pop District, and North Side attractions to and across Pittsburgh’s rivers via the three Sister Bridges.
“The Sister Bridges Experience seeks to transform two beloved but separate spaces into a renowned destination that functions like no other open space in Pittsburgh – connecting Pittsburghers and visitors to a curated cultural experience to be enjoyed by generations to come,” said Matthew Galluzzo, President and CEO for Riverlife. “We have examined Allegheny Landing, Allegheny Riverfront Park, and their surrounding assets. We envision a repositioning that honors the history of these spaces and introduces elements that will meet the expectations, needs, and preferences of a 21st century city.”
Riverlife attracted lead capital investments for both parks from the public and private sectors, including $2 million from the Richard King Mellon Foundation for the renovation of Allegheny Landing and $1.5 million from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) to restore Allegheny Riverfront Park.
“These projects will not only support existing businesses or cultural programs, but also will create opportunities for businesses to invest and grow in our community,” Representative Aerion Abney said. “I want to congratulate all the people and organizations that have worked to bring these projects to fruition and look forward to seeing them succeed in the future.”
“The Richard King Mellon Foundation is pleased to support this vision for Downtown and the North Shore,” said Sam Reiman, Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “Riverlife’s plan for a cohesive connection between the Pop District and the Cultural District will bolster our business and cultural districts, and create signature recreation opportunities for the region.”
Riverlife’s plan complements an Allegheny County initiative to add enhanced lighting to the Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol and Rachel Carson Bridges this year. “Riverlife’s vision continues the exciting transformation of Pittsburgh’s riverfronts,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “The restoration and activation of these spaces will amplify county investments and highlight the profound beauty and history of our beloved Sister Bridges.” The county lighting project was inspired by the response from a temporary art installation, Energy Flow, authorized by the county to be installed on its Rachel Carson Bridge in 2016. The installation was a collaborative project of Riverlife, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Office of Public Art, and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
Allegheny Landing is located on the North Shore between the Roberto Clemente and Andy Warhol Bridges next to PNC Park. The Park was dedicated in 1984 as one of Pittsburgh’s first modern riverfront parks and one of the nation’s first riverfront sculpture parks. With early renovations already underway, largely funded through the Waterfront Development Tax Credit program, Riverlife restored the Park’s public boat dock, which was destroyed by an ice floe in 2018. The dock is open and fully functioning for the summer season.
Riverlife also announced the team that will lead design efforts at Allegheny Landing. dwg., a landscape architecture design firm based in Austin, Texas. This summer, together with Riverlife and team members including local engineering firm Ethos Collaborative and Austin-based architecture firm Chioco Design, dwg. will conduct creative engagement activities and develop an artful, playful, resilient design that will transform the Park for the next generation.
The restoration of Allegheny Riverfront Park has also begun. Allegheny Riverfront Park connects the Cultural District to the Allegheny River across a barrier of roads and bridges. In 2021, Riverlife and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust entered into a partnership to complete a $6.3 million restoration of the park. Riverlife, the Trust, and the City of Pittsburgh are working with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and LaQuatra Bonci Associates to rehabilitate the Riverfront Park. Riverlife anticipates that construction of the upper promenade will begin in 2023.
“Pittsburgh is one of the greatest river cities in the world. We are committed to the wellbeing of our communities and iconic riverfronts,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. “We believe in Riverlife’s transformative plan for the Sister Bridges Experience, which invests in the flourishing economic growth of our city and prioritizes the holistic health and well-being of our communities and rivers.”
The Sister Bridges Experience is a component of Riverlife’s award-winning Completing the Loop plan, a ten-year vision to complete, enhance, and expand Pittsburgh’s 15-mile, 1,055-acre network of riverfront parks, trails, and public open space centered on Downtown.
Additional support for the Sister Bridges Experience has been garnered through the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Allegheny Regional Asset District, the local philanthropic community, and corporations participating in the PA Waterfront Development Tax Credit program administered by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
“The Sister Bridges Experience will connect two great parks on Allegheny River and multiple cultural destinations in Pittsburgh’s Downtown and Northside neighborhoods,” said Councilman Bobby Wilson, “This is an extraordinary investment in tying together two separate parts of my Council District and shall be a catalyst for other opportunities for residents and visitors to experience a new and iconic cross-river destination. I am thankful to all my colleagues in elected office, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and Riverlife for their ironclad commitment to creating this Sister Bridges Experience.”
The public can expect to enjoy near-term amenities and public programming at the location, including the opening of the public boat dock at Allegheny Landing for the 2023 boating season, the Pittsburgh Riverwalk & Chalk Fest at Allegheny Landing over Memorial Day Weekend on May 27, and three public art installations currently on view in Allegheny Riverfront Park as part of ArtWalk on the Allegheny.
“Everything that Riverlife does moving forward at both locations will be to inscribe and re-inscribe this idea of a cohesive and shared experience,” said Galluzzo, “We envision a uniquely Pittsburgh destination where thriving, world-class riverfronts belong to everyone.”
Since 1999, Riverlife has worked to create, activate, and celebrate Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. A nonprofit leader in building a community vision for Pittsburgh’s riverfronts, Riverlife has overseen a $150 million investment in the city’s waterfront transformation, catalyzing $4.2 billion in related economic development, arts and culture spending, and ecological sustainability on or adjacent to the city’s riverbanks. We center our work on the belief that the riverfronts belong to everyone, and world-class riverfront experiences can be created for all using community-driven, equitable development and high-quality, regenerative design. For more information, visit www.riverlifepgh.org.