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Riverlife testimony: transparency, trail amenities will activate Rivers Casino hotel riverfront

By February 8, 2017March 23rd, 2017Uncategorized
View of Casino amphitheater with leafy foliage and people sitting on steps

You may have heard recently that Rivers Casino is proposing to build a new $51.5 million, 221-room hotel on their property near the headwaters of the Ohio River.

Yesterday the casino went before Pittsburgh’s Planning Commission seeking approval for the hotel, which will be built on the eastern side of the casino’s existing riverfront building on the North Shore on what is currently a grassy area between the casino and the Carnegie Science Center.

Rendering of Rivers Casino hotel on North Shore, courtesy Rivers Casino.


Riverlife President and CEO Vivien Li testified in favor of the project with several recommendations for enhancing the building’s riverfront experience for its guests and the Pittsburghers who enjoy the adjacent Three Rivers Heritage Trail and public riverfront green spaces.

Prior to yesterday’s hearing, the Riverlife team met with Rivers Casino leadership to discuss how the building interacts with the public riverfront. As outlined in our “Guide to Riverfront Development,” we strongly encouraged the casino to “activate” the ground floor of the new building, particularly the southeastern corner, with active uses like a cafe or fitness center. We also recommended building transparency at this corner (achieved, for example, by windows and glass facades) to create a visual connection to the river.

The Rivers Casino building already features transparency and interaction between the ground floor and riverfront. Riverlife encourages the casino to extend this activation to the new hotel building. Photo by Dennis Marsico, courtesy Strada.

These amenities and visual connections create a sense of activity and vibrancy that adds to the outdoor activity of the Heritage Trail just steps away. We also encouraged the casino to consider adding assets for trail users such as riverfront benches, drinking fountains and bike rental stations.

The hotel project received unanimous approval from Planning Commission with Riverlife’s suggestions noted by the commission chair.

For a full copy of Vivien Li’s testimony and Riverlife’s recommendations for the Rivers Casino hotel riverfront, please download a PDF here.