HALKET STREET TOD: Creating the Third Place

Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Mellon University

Individual Studio Project 

Spring 2012

Project designed and drafted in AutoCAD and rendered in Photoshop.  3D model and perspectives designed in SketchUp and rendered by hand with colored pencils. Diagrams and site analysis rendered in Illustrator.  


As the second phase of a two-part studio project, the Halket Street transit oriented development explores the possibility urban growth along Pittsburgh’s Fifth Avenue.  Located on the block of Halket Street between Fifth and Forbes Avenue in Oakland, this TOD is linked to the future Halket Street stop along the Fifth Avenue corridor, a Buss Rapid Transit (BRT) system developed in the first half of the spring semester and the current focus of the City of Pittsburgh and the Port Authority of Allegheny County.  The site was selected based on existing local amenities, institutions, and high number of potential riders who frequent local destinations, employment centers, and residential neighborhoods within a 1/4 mile walk of the transit stop as well as the site’s integration into the Oakland 2025 Plan, a local community development plan for the Oakland neighborhood.  

Site Development 
With a strong urban context to build upon, the design of the site took its cues from the massing of adjacent institutional buildings, creating a continuous street edge along Fifth and Forbes Avenues and Halket Street.  Adjacent amenities and institutions, south facing exposure, as well as neighborhood connections to the surrounding area influenced the location of commercial, residential, and office uses as well as public open spaces.  Furthermore, a change in topography of 25 feet between Fifth And Forbes Avenues allowed for stepping of the building masses, concealment of service functions, and the creation of a public green space that spans the existing alley.  Critical to the success of the project is a proposed business center which creates a link between downtown and the institutions of Oakland and Shadyside as well as becomes a destination along the Fifth Avenue Express. 

Design Process
At the intersection of transit, business, and community, the Halket Station TOD emerges as a “Third Place” within the City of Pittsburgh as an alternative to the two social spheres of work and home.  A café, copy center, and bicycle storage center along Fifth Avenue creates an integrated business/meeting space for local workers, residents, and BRT passengers and a childcare facility within the community center serves the same combined population.  Quality green spaces at midblock create a rare community place within the city and a neighborhood amenity for local residents, introducing a variety of facilities, including a community garden, playground, an event pavilion, and a plaza theater, which support both formal and informal activities.  Clear pedestrian access is facilitated by a series of ramps and steps that lead to and through the green space, directly linking destinations and diverse programs for a variety of people, whether just passing through (eg, to/from the transit stop) or meeting with colleagues or friends.  It is through this sense of unexpected that community and transit are connected. 


aerial final.jpg

Surrounding Context


1/4 Mile Destinations

Halket Station along Fifth Avenue

Coltart Avenue Community Gateway

Community Plaza

The Third Place