A view of Mill 19 and the area where the Plaza will be built at Hazelwood Green. Photography by Annie O’Neill, Courtesy of Almono LLC.

Design teams, here’s a chance to be part of the development of Hazelwood Green, Pittsburgh’s last remaining riverfront tract that is destined to become home to tech companies — and, dare we say, maybe Amazon?

Property owner Almono LP has issued a request for qualifications for the design of a public plaza on two acres alongside Mill 19, the former mill structure that will house Carnegie Mellon University’s Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute as the site’s first anchor tenant.

Project leaders want the plaza to be a sunlit, central community gathering and event space at the heart of the 178-acre Hazelwood Green. Rectangular and relatively flat, the plaza will play a critical role in attracting interest in the site and creating a sense of place. Mill 19 will open out onto one of its sides; another side will face Main Street.

“We purposefully used the word ‘teams’ because we’re looking for an integrated, cross-disciplinary approach to the design,” says project director Rebecca Flora with ReMake Group.

“This space is so important as not only a great civic space but as the nexus of where the Hazelwood community comes together with the users of the site. In the future, we’ll have advanced manufacturing users and we may ultimately have people living on this site, and then there’s the Hazelwood neighborhood which we’re part of.”

The deadline for proposal responses is Dec. 20, though design teams must submit any questions by Dec. 1. Flora anticipates awarding the project to a team in late March 2018. The RFQ was sent to a list of roughly 70 design teams across the country and immediately generated responses, she says.

Architecture firm Perkins+Will is developing a master plan for the property with ReMake Group and Civic Design & Planning. They’ll submit the plan to city officials for approvals in January, along with an updated traffic impact study and text revisions for specially-planned zoning.

The plaza is the first of several public areas on the property. Also planned are a 1.2-mile-long riverfront park and trail, mobility rights-of-way, ecological areas, and active and non-active public spaces, according to the RFQ.

Project leaders tapped ideas from people who attended an October event announcing the Hazelwood Green name, and that engagement showed “people really wanted public spaces that were inviting, that were welcoming, that we could have performances on and gatherings,” says Flora.

“We’re going to be asking a lot from the space, so we’re going to be asking a lot from the (design) team,” she says. “This plaza is centric to the site and it’s the first big public space, so it’s really important to get it right.”

If Amazon chooses Pittsburgh to build its HQ2, the Hazelwood Green property likely would factor into the equation because of its size and development opportunities. But early design decisions won’t hinge on whether Amazon might come, Flora says.

“Amazon’s a whole other question mark,” she says. “We think that anything we would do with the site, and how we would design it, would be conducive to a diverse array of possible users.”

Once home to Jones & Laughlin Steel Company and later, LTV Steel, the property along the Monongahela River in Hazelwood was purchased by Pittsburgh foundations in 2002 for $10 million. Officials envision a world-class model for sustainable development with offices, research and development, light manufacturing, housing, retail space, parks, trails and transportation.

The site’s master plan has a goal of achieving LEED Gold certification for neighborhood development. Crews have installed green infrastructure to capture rainwater on the site.

The Mill 19 building, built in 1943, is one of three artifacts to remain as Hazelwood Green develops; the others are an 1887 Roundhouse and the Pump House, built circa 1870.

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.