Hazelwood Green, the decades-in-the-making redevelopment of the massive (and massively polluted) former LTV Steel site, is beginning to look like a destination spot.

An important public-facing component — the $9 million Plaza at Hazelwood Green — will have its official opening celebration on Saturday, May 8.

It’s just two acres out of the vast 178-acre Hazelwood Green site but is designed with the public in mind as a space for relaxation, recreation and events.

The plaza sits in the shadow of the giant Mill 19 building, which is currently being redeveloped into solar-powered high-tech office and lab space. Plans for more office space, housing and further connections to the Hazelwood neighborhood and the Monongahela River are in the works.

The centerpiece of the plaza is the water feature constructed from 16,000 square feet of granite slabs. A gentle skim of water will flow over them.

Water feature at the Plaza at Hazelwood Green.

“The water feature is incredibly unique,” says Todd Stern, managing director with U3 Advisors, which is working with Almono LP, the developer. “We’re always searching for the right term and have not really found it — but I think it’s graceful, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s contemplative.”

Visitors can’t miss the 15-foot winged presence of a giant barn swallow, a sculpture fabricated by Braddock artist Eddie Opat and the Industrial Arts Workshop. There are also decorative tree grates –with images of leaves and nuts from the hazel tree — made of raw steel that will rust naturally. They are designed by Pittsburgh-based artist Carin Mincemoyer and fabricated by Technique Architectural Products. Custom benches were designed by Brian Peters of Pittsburgh-based Building Bytes.

Barn swallow sculpture at the Plaza at Hazelwood Green. Photo courtesy of Hazelwood Green.

A solar canopy will generate power for the site and provide a shady gathering spot.

To the south of the plaza, there will be a tree nursery and a meadow organized by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the Hazelwood-based workforce development organization POORLAW. Native species of plants and trees will be grown there, including Redbuds, Tulip Poplars, Sweetgum, Magnolia, Serviceberry and American Hophornbeam.

“A lot of attention has been paid to the flora, the horticulture of the plaza, with an emphasis on an eclectic mix that both helps to filter out air pollutants, but also to attract pollinators and help to foster a healthy green environment … and also to make it a colorful and attractive, compelling place,” says Stern.

There’s a cistern beneath the plaza and bioswale plantings at the edges of the site to capture stormwater.

A set of swings is located on the eastern end of the plaza. The recreation feature was designed and built using a robotically steam-bent wood form by faculty and students from CMU’s School of Architecture as part of a collaboration with the Manufacturing Futures Initiative.

There will also be a water bottle filling station, bike racks and a Healthy Ride bike share station. Eventually, the hope is that the Healthy Ride station will transition to using electric bikes that are powered by the site’s existing solar panels.

“The plaza slopes down to what we call the South Porch, or the hardscape of Mill 19, which creates sort of a natural performance venue,“ says Stern.

Saturday’s event will include free food and drinks, a historical tour of Hazelwood led by the Hazelwood Historical Society (10:30-11:30 a.m.) and performances by the Hazelwood Center of Life jazz ensemble (10:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.) and Erika Johnson, a Hazelwood spoken-word artist and singer (11:30 a.m.).

The Plaza at Hazelwood Green was designed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol as a project of Almono, a partnership between the Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Heinz Endowments and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.