Tarentum, PA

Urban Design Associates

Summer 2008


Plans and street sections designed and drafted by hand and rendered with marker.  Facade transformation drafted by hand and rendered in Photoshop.  


As part of the intern training program at Urban Design Associates, interns devote three weeks in order to establish a core understanding of urban design techniques and processes performed at UDA, as well as to give back to the Pittsburgh community through a design project.  The project at hand was a main street revitalization project intended to restore the vitality, prosperity, and pedestrian friendly atmosphere that once thrived in the small suburban railroad town of Tarentum, Pennsylvania.  Issues addressed in the report ranged from easy improvements such as lighting and sign suggestions to the more complex, including radical changes within the Central Business District (CBD).  The report was presented to the town members of Tarentum as well as to the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.          

Design Development
Under the guidance of a UDA project manager and fellow architecture team members, interns were taught proper methods of site documentations, photo reconnaissance, and effective ways for illustrating design suggestions.  Two days were spent on location documenting architectural character, standard dimensions of streets and sidewalks, and pinpointing the weaknesses of the CBD.  In an attempt to address the railroad tracks that bisect the CBD, three revitalization strategies were developed to include public improvements, private investment opportunities, and three key initiatives.  In more detail, public improvements discussed opportunities for streetscaping, landscaping, and coordination of parking within the town.  Private investment opportunities encouraged business and property owners to take advantage of county and state funds to renovate and rehabilitate existing structures and infill vacancies within the CBD as shown on the illustrative plan.  The three key initiatives suggest the improvement of the town entrance at 6th Avenue, the creation of a town square around the existing railroad station, and the restructuring of the Corbet Street plaza to revive the once historic civic space.  Examples of the Corbet Street initiative are shown on the next page.  
Tasks Completed
Individual contribution included the development of the key initiatives and the first designs of the master plan.  Existing street conditions were documented and the new proposed street sections were rendered by hand with markers.  Individual attention was given to the three step ground floor and façade renovation of one of the CBD buildings, which identified problem areas and offered design recommendations.  The rendering of the town perspective was also completed by hand with colored pencils, and offered an idea of what the town could look like with the strategic investment plan in place.