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Museums & Parks: An Innovative Partnership in Pittsburgh

Each month, City Parks Alliance names one “Frontline Park” as a standout example of urban park excellence, innovation and stewardship from across the country. In recognition of its partnership and community engagement efforts, Buhl Community Park has been named a Frontline Park.

Located on an acre of Pittsburgh’s historic Allegheny Square, Buhl Community Park sits atop land that has served as a centralized community space for centuries. Formerly known as Diamond Park, it was originally designed as a town green and centerpiece of Allegheny City.  The city was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907, and the green was eventually transformed into a plaza for the new Buhl Planetarium that replaced the superfluous City Hall.

Decades after it was redesigned, the site fell into disrepair. Poor maintenance left the paved expanses crumbled and the central water feature disabled.  Despite being located in a densely populated area with office buildings, apartments and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, it often sat empty.  Hoping to revive the park’s role as a central green space with a welcoming landscape, the Children’s Museum initiated the revitalization process in 2007.  The Museum envisioned the new park as a true community space, and invited nearby residents and neighborhood leaders to contribute ideas for the park’s design, as well as attend lectures and discussions about the history of the location. The engagement of the community eventually led to the selection of the park’s final design.

Since its grand re-dedication in June 2012, Buhl Community Park has been a great reminder of the important role parks play in engaging communities and renewing neighborhoods. The vibrant space created by the revitalization effort reflects the depth and quality of community engagement with the project, and highlights the importance of partnerships between neighborhood institutions, a city, and its residents. The adaptive and sustainable design of the park allows for a variety of uses, from casual picnics to large weddings, and the inclusion of bioswales, meadow grasses and native plants helps to reduce stormwater runoff.  Buhl Community Park’s design reflects the care and stewardship of the stakeholders in redeveloping the space in a way that respects its historical importance while embracing the future of urban park design and management, and a dedicated maintenance fund will ensure that park lovers will be able to enjoy the space for years to come.

The Frontline Parks program is made possible with generous support from DuMor, Inc. and PlayCore.

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