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Creating an Equitable and Sustainable Community

Eco: “connected to the environment”

Innovation: “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods”

Ecoinnovation District: an area dedicated to sustainability, innovative development practices and inclusive job growth.

The Ecoinnovation District in Pittsburgh is the first of its kind.  It is a groundbreaking initiative that combines the goals of both EcoDistricts (focused on creating environmentally and socially sustainable communities) and Innovation Districts (designed to help promote economic growth and create business and employment opportunities).  

Interface Studio led this unique project focused on the Uptown / West Oakland communities in Pittsburgh.  Uptown and West Oakland are strategically located between 2 of the 3 largest “city centers” in Pennsylvania - Downtown and Oakland.  New investments in housing and start-up businesses are happening both within and around Uptown.  For these reasons, Uptown and West Oakland present unparalleled opportunities to encourage new investment that supports new and growing businesses but also creates opportunities for existing residents.

But Uptown faces many challenges that need to be overcome.  Overlooked for many years, Uptown has experienced too many demolitions and is negatively impacted by continued blight and vacancy.  The significant traffic flowing between Oakland and Downtown has resulted in a significant amount of surface parking, poor air quality and outdated infrastructure.   

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We worked closely with residents, community partners and other stakeholders to develop the plan.  We reused a former garage for a zero-waste community event, organized a block party and met with residents in their backyards and living rooms.  We sourced all of our public meeting materials from t-shirts to food, from local businesses.  

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  • A few of the issues facing Uptown residents today
  • The potential benefits of the EcoInnovation District for residents to address existing challenges
  • Just some of the results of our outreach

The work actively addressed changing how we move in and through Uptown. Working with residents, we integrated their concerns and ideas into the design of Fifth and Forbes.  We established clear metrics for each action in the plan.  The potential reconstruction of Fifth and Forbes enables the possibility for creating a local microgrid that is an essential element in establishing a district energy system for Uptown.  

The plan also promotes the expansion of green space that serves as infrastructure to help manage stormwater and improve water and air quality.   These improvements are integrated into existing parks, proposed new parks and along the proposed Bus Rapid Transit in the community. 

To guide new investment, the plan includes an overhaul of the local zoning.  Based on a point system tied to the objectives and strategies in this plan, the City is using the zoning as a test for potential application to other communities across the City.  


  • Fifth and Moultrie today
  • A new plaza at Fifth and Moultrie
  • Clear metrics guide each of the plan's actions
  • Proposed street section for Forbes designed to include space for cars, parking, bike and BRT
  • District energy approach
  • A summary of some of the strategies for the core of the community
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  • The longest crosswalk in Pittsburgh
  • The potential - a new plaza where there was once fast-moving cars
  • Boulevard of the Allies, in all of its glory, today
  • A potential future for the Boulevard - Uptown's riverfront
  • Launch of the public process for the EcoInnovation District
  • Potential development based upon the new zoning for Uptown
  • Forbes Avenue today
  • The potential for Forbes - redesigned to include transportation choices for all residents
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