Opportunity2050: Redesigning Pittsburgh

Growing Braddock, Pennsylvania into into an economic, social, and educational hub.

Pittsburgh is a city with visible pride and identity that is born out of its distinctive neighborhoods. These neighborhoods all have a rich history and culture that make them unique. In partnership with So-Hee Woo, we identified problem areas and design opportunities within a neighborhood in 2014 to help envision a future that is resource abundant without sacrificing the emblematic personalities of a community. We want to design solutions that will not only provide a multitude of opportunities, but allow sustainable growth into the year 2050 and beyond.


Why Braddock?

A once thriving community built from industrial success, Braddock has slowly transitioned into a forgotten town filled with vacant lots and boarded up houses. Outsiders may have long given up on Braddock, but internally, community pride and a positive outlook on the future are present in the words and actions of any resident that you talk to. Braddock is poised to create many new and diverse opportunities. It has highly affordable land and flexible regulation, which makes it the perfect place for small startups and local businesses. Braddock’s local loyalty and community investment position it to welcome an influx of a new and diverse resident workforce. After years of static development, Braddock is starting to see new buildings, homes, and businesses move in at an incredibly rapid rate. It is still a slow start, but the opportunities present in Braddock are not going unnoticed. What Braddock lacks in physical structures, it makes up for with the potential opportunity to grow into an economic, social, and educational hub.


What will Braddock look like in 2050?

By the year 2050, Braddock will have established three unique districts: The Innovation District, The Community District, and The Arts and Learning District.


The Innovation District is based on a hub and spoke model. A building is created to house several startups and around it are placed a variety of different shops, restaurants, cafes, dry cleaners, and other small businesses that are all locally run and operated.


The Community District is a set of community-oriented facilities like a gym, theater, pool, small cafe, garden, etc. All of these facilities cater specifically to the local community. In addition only people living in Braddock are allowed to work in these places, thus creating a greater sense of community and providing opportunities for locals to get jobs that are not necessarily in the startup or technology industry.


This Arts and Learning District is specifically designed to foster learning and creative thinking through a more hands on approach that is taught in schools. There are specific facilities for established companies to come in and for 6 months to a year teach courses open to the community of all ages. They will be on varied topics, but all will be based on self-driven learning.


From modular housing to integrated public green spaces, these renderings depict how the new district based organization of the city will impact the lives of the personas shown below.


Who will live there?

We created a prototypical Braddock family in the year 2050 as a lens to explore the diverse set of experiences that citizens will be exposed to. Each family member explores several key aspects of the redesigned Braddock as well as the 40-year transformative journey that Braddock undertook starting in the year 2014.


Early signs and future signals

Through a series of both formal and informal research methods we explored the history, current situation, and possibilities for the future of Braddock. Our most insightful sessions came from on-site card sorting exercises and participatory design sessions that we used as conversation starters. We talked to librarians, startup founders, teachers, young kids, lifetime residents, community volunteers, and prominent public figures to better understand what Braddock meant to them, and what a successful future was to them.