Fresh ideas about design
The Year 2000 was the beginning of an amazing journey to build a collaborative and creative culture in spite of the end of the world buzz! For the past 20 years, Strada has been creating and transforming extraordinary places for people!!
We asked our leadership team to take a walk down memory lane and share some of their most memorable design experiences as well as their initial thoughts about the Y2K phenomenon.
Mifflin School was the first major project where Strada combined ALL of our cross-disciplinary expertise. I believe it won more than 9 awards!
Y2K was world hysteria with many people profiting off of the general public’s lack of knowledge and stoking fear of Armageddon (A.K.A. nothing happened!). Sober minds found it an over-exaggerated problem that only required some software fixes to resolve. The ball dropped at midnight and all was fine… HAPPY NEW YEAR! ?
I love the Howard Center for the Arts project because it is the culmination of a client relationship extending back almost 30 years, and it utterly transformed a school curriculum. The School’s Applied and Performing Arts programs had been wedged into leftover spaces spread across its urban campus. Seemingly overnight the school had a high profile arts program in a state-of-the-art facility. The “pieces of the puzzle,” committed faculty and students had been there all along. The new building allowed the programs to flourish.
My thoughts about Y2K… Brace yourself, brace yourself, brace yourself. And nothin’.
My favorite Strada Project is Market Square Place. It is representative of the Strada brand because it promotes urban design, architecture, interior design, mixed-use, historic preservation and sustainability. It fully demonstrates our vision for Strada when the firm was founded. In fact, it was the controversy throughout the city about how to redevelop the Fifth and Forbes area. The Murphy building was the linchpin to opening up that area.
Y2K completely went over my head. We had more immediate issues. Strada had been in business for about 6 months and I was more concerned about being able to pay the rent than if the computers would lock up. Actually, that might have been a plus. We’ll never know.
My favorite project to share is Market Square Place. It represents a good portion of what we are about; urban planning, historic preservation, LEED Certified, multi-family residential and retail mix. The project consisted of a lot of unknowns and discovery through completion.
For me the Y2K buzz meant that I did not get to spend New Year’s Eve with my husband who is a software engineer. He spent the evening working to ensure the fears of what might happen did not impact his company. Needless to say nothing eventful happened and he got to spend the transition into the new year with colleagues.
For Strada Y2K was about preparing for the vision of what Strada could be. Everyone was eager to set something new into motion.
The Fifth and Forbes masterplans. It was so exciting to be doing a masterplan for the core of downtown….twice. HA! But nothing is as rewarding as seeing the fruits of your labor growing and becoming real. I spent a day with my family this year at the Holiday Market in Market Square. We enjoyed the market, ate dinner at Las Velas, overlooking it all, and tried to explain to our kids how different that area was just 15 years ago.
On my first day at Strada, they handed me a pile of colored pencils and asked me to render the conceptual views of the North Shore proposal they were working on. Winning this project was a big big deal at the time, and again, looking back now, it is so much fun to hang out on the north shore and think about all of the various ways that we contributed to its rebirth!
I think I was too naive yet to be worried about Y2K. I didn’t have any of the silly worries that the world was ending, and I had faith that people were smart enough and had enough warning about the computer issues.
Friends Center sticks out for me as a particularly memorable project. For one, the project lasted nearly five years from inception to completion. It was also a pivotal moment in my career, where I made the transition from support staff, to project manager, and ultimately responsible for carrying out the vision of UJMN Principal Mark Ueland upon his untimely passing. The renovation of Friends Center was a fascinating challenge, incorporating quaker principles of consensus, cutting edge sustainability initiatives, historic preservation, and renovation of an occupied facility. The result garnered the highest LEED Platinum rating in Pennsylvania at the time of its completion and restored an iconic Philadelphia landmark.
I was 16 during the Y2K excitement, and as a typical high schooler, I remember thinking it would be pretty funny if everyone’s computers crashed. It probably meant I would get a few days off from school too. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed when life went on as normal on January 2nd.
My favorite Strada project is the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Cathedral Campus. It shows the elegance and harmony possible when a cohesive vision is honored from early design through final construction.
Y2K was alarmist nonsense. I spent the turn of the new year on a beach, looking into the dark sky at midnight contemplating the timeline of life (not looking for falling planes).
My favorite Strada project is the Fifth and Forbes/Market Square master planning. Though it was before my time, it is emblematic of the impact Strada has had across the City of Pittsburgh. What was a contentious project has become a signature part our City that people now accept as a “given,” and which helped rebuild a downtown that previously went dark at 5pm every night. It’s a testament to the impact we can have beyond the walls of our buildings and beyond the time when we deliver our design products.
As for Y2K, the doomsday collapse of society was never something I worried about all that much. My recollection was a time that was full of excitement and anticipation. While turning the clock on a new millennium may just be a point on a calendar, it gave people a reason to imagine all the incredible things we could accomplish in the years to come. In some ways it’s like what we try to do each time we start a new project.
My favorite Strada project (to date) is St. Edmund’s Academy. It was a challenging project from several angles, but by working hand in hand with the school from day one, we were able to create something that exceeded their original vision. It was a joy to forge a strong relationship with them over the course of a three-year project.
I was a senior in high school in 1999. I didn’t pay much attention to the Y2K buzz at the time – I was too busy applying for college and getting into mischief with my cross country teammates! I do remember holding my breath for a second when the ball dropped, but then life moved on.
Sustainability is fundamentally about having the humility to use only what we need, live within our means, and let the specific climate and ecosystem of our region inform our daily lives. It lies in the humble acknowledgement of mistakes, and the sacrifice to change our way of life.
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"I can imagine Western State Penitentiary becoming a mixed-use development (along an extended light rail that goes to the airport!) that could include housing, hospitality, cultural uses, and community functions." - Larry Fabbroni
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