NMR Greenway Community Design Workshop Options

STUDIO for Creative Inquiry
In partnership with
Pittsburgh Department of City Planning

Use community input and involvement to achieve a healthy urban ecosystem, improving recreational, educational and aesthetic values and finally resolving the century old problems of water quality

1. Clean the stream and keep it clean
2. Manage the stormwater
3. Restore and support a healthy diverse ecoystem
4. Link Frick Park to the Monongahela River
5. Provide recreational opportunities
6. Provide educational opportunities
7. Provide a model of institutional partnerships, involve municipalities and communities
8. Enhance regional and neighborhood assets, quality of life and property values

Options Boards
Click on each board for an interactive version.

Board content was developed by the NMR team, final graphic design by Suzy Meyer of Image Earth

Node 1: Braddock Avenue

Current Conditions

Stormwater Solutions

Cultural Restoration, images of a new relationship to stormwater and lost streams

Water flow is a safety concern. Invitation for more people to view a natural phenomenon, means we have to address the safety concerns.


  • Culvert steps should be designed for sitting and watching and provide access for maintenance vehicles
  • Establish a warning system for storm surge, provide points of egress.
  • Public art opportunity whereby/bells or other devices can be activated by storm outflows
  • Establish a "stream mark" beginning at Braddock Ave. which can be used to outline the culverted stream in the upper watershed communities
  • Create community ed center/info at foodland entrance
  • Target homeowners to education about benefitting the stream
  • Explore corporate sponsorship of homeowner retrofit
  • Municipal partnerships should be highlighted here


  • Celebrate the water
  • Create cultural connections
  • Increase/expand access to the park
  • Encourage community education through pro-active signage and icons


  • Address difficult storm events
  • Constrain access to the culvert
  • Floatables control - collect debris, allowing for the flow of water
  • Traffic at the entrance is a problem
  • Action: Focus on the design as a local PEDESTRIAN access point
  • Should allow maintenance equipment, and cleanout access to the stilling pond
  • Maintain parking for business
Node 2: Frick Park

Current Conditions

Option One: Restoration


  • Ecological restoration which separates the stream ecosystem from sewer infrastructure
  • Restore the floodplain, stabilize waterflow and minimize sewage impact
  • Restoration model for region
  • CSO management model for country


  • Transform the lower Frick Park experience
  • Create a better ballfield in a new location
  • Add stream meanders and flood plain
  • Use natural materials and minimize concrete wherever possible.
  • Design, plan and institutionalize sustainability


  • Interpret, information- education and establishing signage
  • Trail design for mountain bikers
  • Create limited walkways in sensitive areas for ADA access and education


  • Reconsider parking- Fern Hollow Creek relationship
  • Make sure peak parking use is accommodated
  • Design with permeable surface or other appropriate stormwater applications


Node 3: Commercial Avenue

A meadow restoration would provide the best possible design solution given the greenway goal of restored and supported healthy diverse ecosystem.

An integrated design including a ballfield, a meadow restoration and an interpretive center on this singular site. Each element should embrace multi-benefit solutions and a green design program targeting innovative structure, utilities and systems.



  • Construct a Commercial Avenue pedestrian crossway just south of the parkway bridge with user-activated traffic control
  • Use the Summerset entrance and its periphery for vehicular access and parking
  • Create a sidewalk on the URA (slag) side of the road
  • Put the interpretive center close to the stream but visible from the pedestrian crossing
  • If the Commercial Avenue bridge is reconstructed, refurbish the underpass in such a way as to be wildlife friendly
  • Design the playing field to mitigate stormwater flow
  • Preserve as much meadow as possible
  • Develop the interpretive center with an onsite steward and integrate the ecological reality of the site into the body of the architecture
  • Explore the possibility of removing the concrete fill, and dropping the entire field to its historic floodplain
  • Use no pesticides or herbicides in the management of the site
  • No ballfield lighting, no sound sytem


  • Design the site for multi-benefit use, realize diverse human needs and create a threshold for the diverse audience to access an ecosystem based experience
  • Explore the potential for the existing field to be lowered, allowing for dual function as playing field and ecologically designed flood plain
  • Design the ballfield and its meadow environment in such a way that stormwater runoff from the Parkway and Commercial Avenue can be detained, cleaned and infiltrated into the groundwater


  • Pedestrian crossing of the road is a problem
  • Parking and vehicular entry onto Commercial is an issue
  • Anything that adds to the traffic will negatively affect the wildlife
  • The playing field will interrupt the ecosystem and minimize biological connectivity at a key point in the greenway -- this is counter to the greenway-plans stated vision and goals

Conflict and Resolution:
While the preference is for a meadow restoration, the community planners recognize the value of diverse human uses and recognize the need for ballfields in Pittsburgh. If there is to be a ballfield at this site, it must consider the above goals and guidelines.

Node 4: Slag Site

Current Conditions


Maintaining silence in the quietest point in the greenway.


Restore the site through a mix of ecological and cultural processes. Target education, art and revegetation.


  • The stream (clean and ecologically restored!)
  • Existing bridge and its downstream area
  • Two areas of existing floodplain: shale cliffs, natural soils and Trillium on the North facing bank


  • Equitable handicap access
  • Integrating the Summerset bridge into the intent of the greenway


  • Renovate the existing bridge for pedestrians
  • Provide public access to the stream
  • Revegetate steep slopes using natural succession processes
  • Celebrate the heart of the greenway with ecological art
Node 5: Duck Hollow

Option One: Active Recreation
Option Two: Ecological Enhancement

Restored riparian ecosystem, minimal effort maximum benefit.


  • Safe pedestrian connectivity between the slag entry and Duck Hollow.
  • Bus service for residents and recreational users.


  • Celebrate the entry to the slag site/trail.
  • Enable public access to the stream and river.


  • Army Corp of Engineers project to improve the aquatic habitat in the NMR embayment.
  • Duck Hollow/flood plain wildlife sanctuary (complimenting the above).
  • Celebrate the Greenway entry with a butterfly-habitat garden.
  • Simple kiosk with water, toilets, fishermans sink, info board, locking bike rack.


  • Mon-Fayette Expressway (Potential public trail investment opportunity)
  • Pedestrian safety under the existing RR bridge.
  • Property ownership.

Board content developed by Nine Mile Run team with:

Ken Tamminga, landscape architect, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Pennsylvania State University; urban greenways and ecological public design.
Andy Cole, Research Associate, Cooperative Wetlands Center; comparison of natural and constructed wetlands, cumulative effects of development on wetlands.
Peggy Johnson, Geomorphologist, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pennsylvania State University; water resources, including river hydraulics and watershed modeling.
David Dzombak, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University. Research includes water and soil chemistry, wastewater treatment.
Sue Thompson, Botanist, Assistant Curator, Carnegie Museum of Natural history; plant insect interactions, documentation of plant biodiversity.

The graphic design and final content of the boards was developed by Suzy Meyer of Image Earth.

Nine Mile Run Greenway Project
STUDIO for Creative Inquiry
Carnegie Mellon University