Connecting Pittsburgh

Penn State Arts and Architecture students connect North Side Pittsburgh neighborhoods to showcase unique locations and landmarks for visitors and community members.

There's more to experience in Pittsburgh than you might think. 

A team of Penn State students, along with collaborators from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Chatham University, are working to connect eighteen North Side neighborhoods to better showcase community landmarks, such as historical sites, gardens, and more.

Students sit and talk in front of a colorful art display on a wall.

The Colorful World of Randyland

Students visit Randyland—a series of art displays known as Pittsburgh's most colorful landmark—which is located in the Central Northside neighborhood of the city.

Image: Emily Paskewicz

"People who are coming to visit Pittsburgh, as well as locals, will be able to see all the amazing landmarks, a taste of the local culture, and plan to see some really spectacular stuff."—Jeffrey Holzer

Two Penn State summer interns—recent Landscape Architecture graduate Emily Paskewicz and fifth-year senior in Landscape Architecture Jeffrey Holzer—along with their CMU and Chatham colleagues are mapping out a potential trail system to connect community assets and historic locations.

Paskewicz says she applied to be a part of this project, known as the One Northside Asset Inventory Mapping (AIM) Project, to gain experience working with students from different schools and disciplines. 

“We all bring something a little different to the table, from sustainability and landscape architecture to urban design, food studies, and public policy,” she says. “Our ability to bounce ideas off of each other will really help the project in the long run.”

Holzer says he will use the collected data this fall in a design studio course to further develop themes for the trails.

A wooden archway marks the entrance to Food City, a community garden.

North Side Community Garden

Food City is one of the locations the One Northside AIM project hopes to showcase. The community garden, focusing on permaculture techniques, is a project of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. 

Image: Emily Paskewicz

“People who are coming to visit Pittsburgh, as well as locals, will be able to see all the amazing landmarks, a taste of the local culture, and plan to see some really spectacular stuff,” he says. 

Penn State participation in the project is supported by the Penn State Center: Engaging Pittsburgh, which received a $25,000 grant from The Buhl Foundation.

Frederick Thieman, president of The Buhl Foundation, says backing of this project will not only support student engagement but develop quality of place for the individual North Side neighborhoods.

Students and community members sit around picnic tables to talk.

Student-Community Interaction

Part of the goal of the One Northside AIM project is to get community input on what’s most important to their neighborhoods and what they hope to see come from the project.

Image: Emily Paskewicz

"Our ability to bounce ideas off of each other will really help the project in the long run."—Emily Paskewicz

“The team building approach to this project creates a cross-pollination of skills and combines it with the opportunity for students to be entrenched in neighborhoods to develop space that will appeal to future generations.”

More About the Project

As Pennsylvania's only land-grant university, Penn State takes its responsibility to the entire Commonweath seriously. The Penn State Center: Engaging Pittsburgh is, among other things, working to make the Greater Pittsburgh area an exceptional place to live, grow, and succeed.

As a participant in the One Northside AIM project, students are working within Pittsburgh neighborhoods including Allegheny Center, Allegheny West, Brighton Heights, California-Kirkbride, Central Northside, Chateau, East Allegheny, Fineview, Manchester, Marshall-Shadeland, North Shore, Northview Heights, Perry North, Perry South, Spring Garden, Spring Hill-City View, Summer Hill, and Troy Hill. 

One Northside AIM is managed by GTECH Strategies—a nonprofit dedicated to improving the social, economic, and environmental health of communities—and will be completed in three phases through August 21: research, community survey, and data analysis.