Confluence River Room - Riverlife Completing the Loop by evolveEA

Riverlife Pittsburgh

Riverlife is dedicated to reimagining Pittsburgh’s riverfronts as a continuous system of parks and open space referred to as “the Loop.” Formerly vacant, industrial, inaccessible land, is being redesigned to connect neighborhoods to riverfronts in a way that is accessible to all.

Standing at a critical pivot point with a new Executive Director, Riverlife engaged evolveEA to envision how to complete and enhance Pittsburgh’s riverfront Loop over the next ten years. The resulting Completing the Loop report articulates Riverlife’s vision, imagines projects for a world-class riverfront, and aligns the efforts of many stakeholders to create vibrant, equitable places. The design process engaged over 5,000 people in a virtual engagement process, interviews, and focus groups.

Charting 20 years of progress, Completing the Loop describes steps needed to close landside trail gaps, strategies to get to the water’s edge, and the integration of on-river networks for a continuous river experience. The plan connects neighborhoods that have been disconnected by infrastructure such as highways and railroads, and proposes a system of equitably located facilities, services, and amenities. Unlike publicly owned park systems, Pittsburgh’s riverfronts rely on cooperation among public and private property owners, and the visioning process has cultivated relationships to address maintenance and realize ambitious projects.

Completing the Loop’s Technical Assessment outlines key steps for the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Confluence “River Rooms” and identifies partners, projects, timelines, and issues critical to completion. The Scorecard rates progress for the Loop’s 25 segments and recommends how to improve each segment’s score, which rates Connectivity, Places, Maintenance, Ecology, and Experience.

Images from Completing the Loop report

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Completing the Loop Virtual Public Meeting

Concurrent to this effort, evolveEA brought together past documents, recently completed strategic planning, and new data and analysis to inform Riverlife’s Implementation Framework. This internal document sets tangible milestones and viable implementation strategies in the form of a roadmap for Riverlife. The document includes new bedrock statements (mission, vision, and values), a new organizational model, and a clear path forward to implement the recommendations set forth in the Completing the Loop report. All work that has been completed during this 18-month process has included an intentional and meaningful integration of social equity to ensure that Pittsburgh’s riverfronts belong to everyone.

Riverlife Implementation Framework report by evolveEA

The Completing the Loop report has been made possible with funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

Evolve EA