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Katie Kovalchik | Penn State Landsape Architecture | 2013


TABLE OF CONTENTS: Introduction ....................................... 1 Site Analysis ............................... 2-4 Charrette Findings ...................... 5 Design Concept ............................. 6 Site Design ........................................ 7 Entry Gate.......................................... 8 Skate Park........................................... 9 Community Stage ...................... 9 The Wedge ..................................... 10 Native Meadow .......................... 10 Rail Lookout ....................................... 11 River Lookout ................................... 11 Culvert Underpass ........................ 12 Kayak Launch + Marina ......... 13 Friends of River Rail ..................... 14 Phases of Implementation ........ 15 Back to Hazelwood ...................... 16 References ............................................ 17 Special Thanks .................................. 18

Katie Kovalchik_2013 Penn State Landscape Architecture


INTRODUCTION:

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HAZELWOOD, PA Hazelwood is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA. Hazelwood takes its name from the hazelnut trees which once flourished along the Monongahela River, a river that the residents have little, if any access to. When the industrial age hit Pittsburgh, the industrial rail lines on the site were built inland as to respect the residents concern of maintaining the river’s aesthetic value. This railroad currently separates Hazelwood into two sections, “below the tracks” and the rest of Hazelwood. In 1950, Hazelwood was a booming town, with over two hundred businesses, and by 1980 the steel industry began to decline. As the industry moved out of Hazelwood, so did its residents, especially the ones who depended on the railroad for work. Since then, the neighborhood has been in need in some serious redevelopment. The ALMONO Partnership is planning to re-develop 98 acres of riverfront property on the former Hazelwood Coke Works site, currently a vacant brownfield land.

T E E R T RN S

O H G N LA

SITE OUTLINE

Image courtesy of Bing Maps

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SITE ANALYSIS:

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This map represents major findings when visiting the Riverside neighborhood of Hazelwood. There is only one existing “river walk”, which no residents we spoke with had any knowledge of existing. The neighborhood is very grid-like with a noticeable percentage of vacant lots. One small current park exists, but is in an unsafe intersection and doesn’t offer any exposure to natural systems or the river. This map shows a densely populated little neighborhood of residents who live within one mile of the Monongahela River and have most likely never seen or touched it.

0

Riverside Analysis existing river walk streets lost streams riverside park location current parks building footprints vacant lots flood plain monongahela river

North

0

0.015

0.03

Miles 0.045

0.5 mile

Half of a basketball court is currently on the Riverside Park site, right beside an electric transformer, the orange shape on the park site in the map to the left.

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SITE ANALYSIS:

1956

1938

1967 Site Progression

*

it is evident that vegetation has since moved back into the site since the collapse of the steel industry

North

Riverside Park site Existing vegetation

Common types of vegetation found: Top ten: 1. Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) 2. Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) 3. White mulberry (Morus alba) 4. Wild grape (vitis spp.) 5. Box elder (Acer negundo) 6. Willows (salix spp.) 7. Elm (Ulmus americana/rubrum) 8. Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) 9. Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) 10. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

1

8

4 7 10

2 5

native/invasive

3

9

This diagram shows the site’s progression throughout history beginning in 1938. It shows the large percentage of buildings on site along with railroad tracks (that mostly still exist and are operational today). This diagram also documents the amount of vegetation on the site since 1938 and how it has decreased and increased through time. This regenerative pattern of the vegetation began to inspire the design concept to focus on aiding in the continuation of this natural process, and also remediate the soils on site that have been home to this very industrial site starting in the 1930’s.

2013 The top ten most common types of vegetation found on site was an exciting discovery, because over 50% of the most common plants are NOT invasive, which is rare to see on an unmanaged industrial site. This further led to the desire of this project to really focus on the ecological rehabilitation and management of this site.

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The number on the photo corresponds with the plant type to the left.

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SITE ANALYSIS: This map shows one major issue on the site: the railroad tracks. There are over ten individual tracks that traverse the site, and are in full operation use 24/7, 365 days a year. Rather than ignoring them or supposing they will just ‘go away’, it is important to realize they are a part of this site, and have been since before 1938. The rails are fully facilitated in this park design, which leads to a realistic and resilient design, that can both accommodate the business need of the site and the natural and recreational opportunity of the site.

Rail lines that divide Hazelwood into two sections, coining the term, “Below the tracks”.

Riverside Railroad Analysis existing rail lines streets

North

0

0.04

0.1 Miles

riverside park location monongahela river

Image courtesy of Bing Maps

Another issue is the road salt that the city of PIttsburgh stores on the site. This riverfront property is yearning for a much more practical and public use than just road salt storage. There are plenty of other, less valuable lots in Pittsburgh where this salt can be stored. The salt is the white massing within the site outline in the image to the left. The salt pile is currently covered with a tarp.

SITE OUTLINE

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CHARRETTE FINDINGS: After multiple site visits on our own, we had a design charrette with the community members at their Hazelwood Initiative meeting. At this meeting, we presented our site analysis and the goals we had heard thus far. From here, we broke out into smaller groups according to site and got right down to figuring out what the community wanted for this site. It was interesting to talk with community members about this site because it is such a foreign place to them. None of them have explored this site, mostly because there is no way to get on the site other than finding your way through the thick vegetation that borders the site and Riverside. It took a lot of convincing for the community to even begin to think of this site as THEIR OWN riverfront park. After we talked with them and opened them up to the idea of claiming their riverfront property back, they were eager and energetic to give their recommendations and offer what needs the community really needed in a park.

Photos from our community charrette in Hazelwood, PA. October 8, 2013.

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DESIGN CONCEPT: The design philosophy for River Rail Park focuses on a system of braided ecologies. By weaving together and facilitating the human ecology of Riverside, the natural ecology of the Monongahela River, and the industrial past of the area, a resilient and valuable park is created for the community of riverside and greater Hazelwood. Most importantly, River Rail Park creates a new opportunity to get down to the level of the Monongahela River safely. The design of the park seeks every available opportunity to improve the public usefulness of the space in order to create an experientially rich transition from urban upper-level park down to a lower-level park at the river’s edge. This was a great challenge, not only because of the extreme slope of the site to the river, but also because of the ten rail lines that traverse the site. The lower-level is intentionally wild in its native plantings, which can regenerate themselves after floods or ice flows. Structural lookouts to the Monongahela River offer outstanding, unprecedented views, which have never been purposely and publicly offered to the community before. The upper-level is home to a native meadow, which allows for passive recreation, promotes community engagement with natural ecosystems, all while phytoremediating the degraded soils on the site. A ramp and kayak launch, which lengthens and shortens according to Monongahela River water levels, which creates easy access between the upper-level park and the water’s edge. As designed, the upper-level landscape will flourish with activity: active sports on the native meadow, informal pickup games and kite-flying, jogging and biking on the trails, bird-watching, strolling, and contemplation along the more secluded paths. Within each space, the design fosters multiple opportunities for social interaction. Markets, festivals, and concerts will energize the impressive landscape around the rail line underpass. Now, the rail lines that had previously cut the site off from the river, provide a unique space for a new expression of urban life in Hazelwood.

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SITE DESIGN: 1

2

10 3

5

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Design Features: 1. Entry Gate 2. The Wedge 3. Skate Park 4. Community Stage 5. Native Meadow 6. Rail Lookout 7. Culvert Underpass 8. Kayak Launch 9. River Lookout 10. Electrical Station

6 Functioning rail corridor to be retained

7 9 8

100’

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ENTRY GATE: The entrance to River Rail Park is a straight shot from Elizabeth Street in Riverside. The materials used throughout the park are modern variations on railroad vernacular. Railroad crossing gates used as entry gates and railroad tracks to edge the sidewalks. Creating park fixtures from railroad materials brings the rails from being this foreign far-away object to an accessible, everyday object. The rails have a negative connotation to them in Hazelwood, and this view can be altered if we just incorporate life back into these spaces and create livable space that co-exist with the rail lines.

Entry way perspective into the park from the end of Elizabeth Street.

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SKATE PARK + COMMUNITY STAGE: A goal of the Riverside community is to have a space for people to spend time and be entertained. A lot of residents attribute the crime and abandonment of Hazelwood to the lack of variety in activities for people of all ages, but especially kids and teenagers. The skate park in River Rail Park doubles both as a seating area and a skateboard bowl. Providing this amphitheater style of seating allows kids to feel watched, which usually is all that is necessary to prevent bad behavior towards others or themselves. The community stage is an idea that came straight from a Riverside resident.... the need for “things to do�. There are local jazz artists in Hazelwood that could perform at this stage, local groups could have meetings here because of the modular nature of the stage, and the pavilion provides a space of shelter in all types of whether for farmers markets or festivals.

Locals come to watch a jazz band at the community stage, kids hang out and are entertained, people are filling the space and bringing life back to Hazelwood

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THE WEDGE + NATIVE MEADOW: THE WEDGE: The Wedge is an area on the site where there is currently vegetation thriving. While not all of it is native, the concept is to start a management plan on site of removing invasives, studying soil quality and implementing phytoremediating plants. Once this woodlot is properly ridden of all invasive species, and native phytoremediating species are introduced, residents can study how this is effecting soil quality. Once the soil quality is rejuvenated, and residents are still wanting to be involved in the park, community gardens could be carved into these nooks within the wedge. Having community members engaged throughout the phytoremediation study will not only gauge the amount of community interest and involvement in the park, but allow River Rail Park management to ultimately decide if urban agriculture can be successful here. And if not, there will be a restored native woodlot on site.

THE WEDGE

PHYTOREMEDIATION STUDY

BROWNFIELD IN TRANSITION REJUVENATED

is land previously used for industrial purposes or some commercial uses time between degraded soils and soil that is ready to be used safelty for agriculture all contaminants are extracted; soil ready for agriculture

0-2 years

Urban Agriculture potential graphic adapted from urbanomnibus.net

NATIVE MEADOW: To have a resilient and valuable park, the soils on site must be rejuvenated. These soils have been home to heavy steel industry since before 1938. The soils can easily be assumed to be absolutely degraded and contaminated. By utlizing phytoremediating technology, plants can be used on site to uptake contaminants in the soils, and restore the soil to a healthy condition. This meadow will also be readily available for passive recreation such as picnics or playing frisbee. Once every year, the grass of the meadow will be cut, the cuttings will be collected and taken to an industrial landfill since they contain the contaminants from the soil. A few grass species that are proven to faciliate phytoremediation are: SPECIES: Agropyron smithii Agrostis castellana Bouteloua gracilis Buchloe dactyloides Elymus canadensis Festuca arundinacea Festuca rubra Lolium prenne

COMMON NAME: Western wheat grass Colonial bentgrass Blue gamma grass Buffalo grass Canadian wild rye Tall fescue Red fescue English ryegrass

PROCESS: Rhizodegradation Hyperaccumulation Rhizodegradation Rhizodegradation/Accumulation Rhizodegradation/Accumulation Rhizodegradation/Phytoextraction Rhizodegradation Rhizodegradation/Uptake

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RAIL + RIVER LOOKOUTS:

This lookout is on the path below the railroad tracks. It allows community members to see the river, spend time there and access it for fishing. Another goal of the community was to incorporate more educationcal opportunities into the neighborhood. There will also be fish habitat enhancement programs in place to further Katie Kovalchik_2013 increase the usability of the riverfront park. These lookouts give residents exposure to nature and the rail lookout will expose residents to the mysterious rail lines Penn State Landscape Architecture they always hear and never see. These opportunities could be incorporated with educational programs at the library site.

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CULVERT UNDERPASS: 4

3

2

1

D

D

4'-0"

C

C

28.00"

12.00 12.00 B

15'-8"

11'-0" (132.00)

B

28.00"

20'-0" (240.00")

14.00"

14.00"

22'-4" DRAWN

10/30/2013

waltb

CHECKED TITLE

QA

A

A

MFG APPROVED SIZE

REV

DWG NO

C

SCALE

4

3 4

D

These renderings show the nature of the culvert underpass that is designed to faciliate foot traffic under the rails. It is a constant ramp from Tecumseh Street to the river, which is ADA accessible as well. There are artistic opportunities on the culvert, whether it’s wall art or interior lighting that can lighten up the space to make it less daunting to the pedestrian. Hazlewood Box Culvert # Item 32 culver sections 2 wing sections 4 wing tip sections

SHEET

2 3

1 2

1

A special thanks to Walter Buchan from A.C. Miller Concrete Products, Inc. for his time and expertise on this culvert design.

D

C

C

B

B

DRAWN

waltb

10/29/2013

CHECKED QA

A

TITLE

APPROVED SIZE

C

SCALE

ESTIMATED

TOTAL COST:

A

MFG

4

cost for structure: cost for installation:

1 OF 1

$650,000.00 $700,000.00 $1,350,000.00

3

2

REV

DWG NO

hazelwood project SHEET

1

1 OF 1

Katie Kovalchik_2013 Penn State Landscape Architecture

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KAYAK LAUNCH AND SMALL BOAT MARINA:

A small boat marina could lead to small-craft boats accessing River Rail Park from all over Pittsburgh. This type of access only makes the park more popular for residents and boaters alike.

A kayak launch on site helps invite different activities into Hazelwood along with residents in Pittsburgh as a whole. The design of this kayak launch facilitates the changing water levels so that it can flood if need be and still be a resilient structure. This type of river access is unprecedented in Hazelwood and is a valuable asset to the community.

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FRIENDS OF RIVER RAIL: Friends of River Rail Park would be a partner for River Rail Park that works to make sure the park is maintained as a great public place for Hazelwood and Pittsburgh visitors to enjoy. This group would oversee the maintenance, operations and public programming for the park and work with funding and donors to maintain and improve the park.

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PHASES OF IMPLEMENTATION: Day 1: - Secure funding for River Rail Park startup. - Meet with CSX Railroad Company to discuss implementing a box culvert under four of their rails. - Meet with City of Pittsburgh to facilitate relocation of road salt pile to a remote and more sustainable location beyond Hazelwood. - Meet with electrical company to verify right of way for the electrical transformer on site. - Meeting with these companies is an important step in stressing to them that they can become partners in this park. While their land is not effected or taken away by this park, they in-turn become a community partner of park and will be viewed very positively for working with River Rail Park and being part of its success. Within Year 1: - Begin fish habitat enhancement. - E&S control (Erosion and Sedimentation) - Prevent further contamination of site and surrounding area. - Excavation of site. - Remove sections of track where culvert will be placed. - Involves building under two rails and then activating those lines and building under the next two. - CSX will be involved in this process. - Excavate, prepare subgrade and set base for box culvert. - Install box culvert. - Install main ramp from Tecumseh Street to box culvert location. Within Year 2: - Start up “Friends of River Rail� organization of community members. - Build kayak ramping system, river walk, and river lookouts. - Build entry gate at Elizabeth Street entrance. Within Year 5: - Build community stage, along with meadow amphitheater. - Build skatepark and rail lookout. - Plant native meadow and the Wedge. Katie Kovalchik_2013 Penn State Landscape Architecture

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BACK IN HAZELWOOD:

On November 19, 2013 we had the opportunity to present our design concepts for the Hazelwood community to community members. Once we presented our idea, we had one-on-one time with the community to talk about specifics, more ideas they had, or changes they would continue to make to the idea, all of which were welcomed.

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THANK YOU:

A very special thanks to all who were involved in the development of this project. I am very grateful to the participants who assisted in the co-authoring of this design.

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REFERENCES:

"PGHSNAP." PGHSNAP. City of Pittsburgh, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2013. "Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers, Now a Public Attraction." O'Toole, Christine. New York Times 22 Jan. 2013: Web. “SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration.” SER. Society for Ecological Restoration, 2004. "Using Phytoremediation to Clean Up Sites." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency.

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River Rail Park in Hazelwood, PA