University of Pittsburgh
November 11, 2009

Oakland's Schenley Plaza Wins International Sustainable Project Award

Pitt provided project management, legal services, and funding
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Schenley Plaza's transformation from a parking lot into a vibrant, green public space won the Silver Award in the Environmentally Sustainable Project Category during the 2009 International Awards for Liveable Communities (LivCom Awards) held Oct. 8-12 in the Czech Republic city of Pilsen.

The plaza's $12 million redesign was a collaborative project of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the Oakland Investment Committee of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. The Parks Conservancy operates the plaza in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh. Meg Cheever, president and CEO of the conservancy, presented the project to a panel of judges and an audience representing 15 countries.

Pitt's Office of Facilities Management (OFM) contributed to the plaza's conceptual design and managed the construction process, said Ron Leibow, a project manager within OFM. The late Ana Guzman, Pitt's then-vice chancellor for facilities management and a member of the Oakland Task Force, spearheaded the project. Guzman passed away on Dec. 1, 2008.

Schenley Plaza is a five-acre parcel of land located on Forbes Avenue in Oakland between Carnegie Library and Pitt's Hillman Library. It offers such amenities as food kiosks, a one-acre lawn, café seating, and a Victorian-style carousel.

State grants as well as funding from the Parks Conservancy, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Carnegie Museums and Library, UPMC, the Heinz Endowments, and the Richard King Mellon Foundation supported the project. In addition to supplying funding, Pitt provided project and contract management services as well as legal services.

"It has been wonderful to see Schenley Plaza grow and develop over the past four years, and we are thrilled that it has received international recognition," Cheever said. "Schenley Plaza's conversion from a parking lot to a vital green gathering place has improved the quality of life in Oakland."

The LivCom Awards, created to encourage the best practices, innovation, and leadership in sustainable development, is the world's only competition for local communities that focuses on environmental management and the creation of liveable communities.