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REVIVING THE HILL- One of Pittsburgh's oldest residential neighborhoods | Udday Shankur Datta

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

REVIVING THE HILL- One of Pittsburgh's oldest residential neighborhoods | Udday Shankur Datta

©UddayShankur Datta



Project Name:Reviving the Hill- One of Pittsburgh's oldest residential neighborhoods

University: West Virginia University

University Location: Morgantown, West Virginia, USA

Project type: Course project

Project location: Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Landscape Architect: UddayShankur Datta

All Text and Renderings credits: UddayShankur Datta

Instructor: Stefania Staniscia, Dr. Shan Jiang

Name: Udday Shankur Datta

About Udday Shankar Datta: Bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical implementation to create a robust livable community is my goal as a landscape architect. My path towards landscape architecture stems from my passion for cities, human and ecosystem health, and a sense of urgency to preserve the environment. I graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Later I joined West Virginia University (WVU) as a graduate student and received my Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree in 2020. My passion for travel and photography has taken me to different places where I got the chance to get involved with the community. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Human and Community Development at WVU. I plan to work on community development projects and continue to research contemporary urban challenges as a designer and educator.

What inspired him to become an architect: I always wanted to do something to help my community, to develop the city I live in. I realized that the unsustainable practices in our society are taking us away from the natural environment. This realization inspired me to be an architect. To learn how to blend nature with the human realm, I decided to continue my higher studies in landscape architecture. As designers, we can shape our environment, and afterward, our environment shapes us to lead a sustainable lifestyle.


Historical Context

As part of the City of Pittsburgh's urban renewal efforts of the late 1950s, the historic African American neighborhood of Lower Hill declared blighted, and 95 acres of the Hill District neighborhood cleared, including 1300 buildings, 413 businesses, and 1600 families (over 8000 people). A new Cultural Center planned which was to include an opera house, playhouse, art gallery, upscale hotel, and apartment buildings. By 1966 the area contained only a new public auditorium (that became known as the Civic Arena), an apartment building, and an apartment/ hotel complex. Significant portions of the land never developed and remained surface parking.


Current Challenges

Interstate 579 opened in 1962 separated the Pittsburgh central business district to the west with the historic Hill District to the east. As a result, the Hill District became isolated and soon once a vibrant neighborhood became degraded. In recent years, the Hill District has gained a reputation for being an unsafe neighborhood. Because of many vacant lands and dilapidated buildings, crime rates are on higher sides in this area.


The Hill District is physically cut off from downtown Pittsburgh by the highway routes. To reduce travel time, the Hill District needs to be linked with the downtown area and must be accessible by walking. The proximity to Oakland and the Downtown area can play a crucial role to revive the economy of Hill District. Although Pittsburgh has a working bus network and is heavily used by the people, the situation is different in the Hill District. Only a few bus routes are connected to Hill District and the bus stoppages are deprived of many basic facilities. Alternative bus routes can be proposed with bus stoppages including sitting facility and shade create a transit-oriented transportation system.