Project Summary

Do you have a brownfield in your neighborhood?

What are brownfields?

Brownfields are post-industrial sites. They are the places that have been abandoned by steel and other industries. They are often best described in comparison to greenfields. Greenfields are undeveloped lands like fields and forests which are often beyond the surburban edge. Redeveloping brownfields reinforces the function of cities and takes development pressure off forests and farms. There are many current and former brownfields properties in the Pittsburgh area: Century III Mall, Washington's Landing,the LTV site, Homestead site and Nine Mile Run. 



Why study a brownfield?

The Reclamation of brownfields provides a wonderful opportunity to reclaim access to our cities' rivers and streams and re-invigorate the natural wonders of Pittsburgh! To fully understand how complex brownfields are, a group of people from different disciplines are involved.The artists in the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry have gathered people with interests in history, biology, chemistry, science and social science to explore the meaning and function of Nine Mile Run.The Project team has been working with-in these areas of inquiry to develop quantitative tools to understand and communicate the qualitative opportunities presented by brownfield sites. Nine Mile Run is our current case study. We believe the process of creative inquiry must be translated and developed for a younger audience, classroom teachers and families. 



The Nine Mile Run education program

Nine Mile Run is a historic stream valley identified by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. for its beauty and waste water problems in 1910. By 1928, it had been identified by influential Pittsburghers for a city park. Unfortunately, it was purchased by a steel industry slag disposal firm before a park could be realized. The stream's watershed flows from four different towns, most often from culverts1. Next to the creek there is a 250 acre slag heap2, 20 stories high. The area was recently bought by the city of Pittsburgh. The city intends to reclaim this area to create a housing development and a public park. 

The STUDIO for the Creative Inquiry in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, proposes to develop classroom activities that invite school children, their teachers, and families to carry out investigations of brownfield site opportunities. Nine Mile Run will be the case study. We can access the supporting team of working experts: artists, historian, architects, biologists and scientists as advisors. The goal of the educational program is to provide opportunities for a younger audience to learn about the opportunities and issues of brownfields reclamation. This project will demonstrate that creative inquiry can be translated and developed for a younger audience, classroom teachers, and families. 

The Nine Mile Run education program emphasizes history, community access and urban ecology. It explores soil, flora, habitat and water quality. These elements provide an excellent context for an inquiry-based learning project. Since May 1997 the program has developed many activities at the Children's Museum. Last year we worked with the John Minadeo Elementary School, and the Homewood Montessori school's 4th and 5th grade students. We are also working with Homewood Montessori School and Dixon Intermediate School this fall. The classroom investigations and activities are displayed on the World Wide Web. The Students were invited to the event "Our Changing Earth" the AAA Public Science Day 1999 program at Pittsburgh Children's Museum on January 21, 1999


There is a trailer classroom on Commercial Street under the Parkway.

Please come visit us! We are at the site every weekend:
9am - 1pm, Saturdays and 1 - 4pm, Sundays.
Trailer (412)244-8045

  1. In the past, streams were considered a nuisance. They were placed in pipes and put underground. This practice is called culverting. 
  2. Slag is a highly porous gravel like material. It is a by-product of the steel industry. There are many slag heaps existing in Western Pennsylvania.