Located on a former steel mill, brownfield site along the Ohio River, the Rivers Casino and Riverfront Park has become a key piece of Pittsburgh’s riverfront renewal initiative since it opened in 2009. Together, the casino and park create a major new North Shore destination with numerous dining and entertainment offerings in addition to gaming. The 400,000+ SF facility offers panoramic views of the Pittsburgh skyline and the Three Rivers basin. As a result, a primary design goal was creating a building that opened itself to this spectacular setting and embraces the new park – something quite unusual in the world of casino design. Reflecting an approach to place making that integrates architecture, setting and landscape, the building and the park are connected by the alignment of their respective focal points, the Drum Bar and the outdoor amphitheater.
The park, along with the casino, has created a new link in the developing Three Rivers Park. Pathways in the park also extend the Three Rivers Heritage Trail System to over 25 miles. Trails on this site, like many in the system, take cyclists and pedestrians through areas where steel mills and railyards formerly operated. The central feature of the park is a grass step amphitheater, where the river forms a backdrop for outdoor performances and gatherings.
In addition to providing a spectacular new public space, this park is an ecological asset. An array of plantings, including native wildflowers and grasses, helps to prevent erosion. A comprehensive stormwater management system, involving specially-designed soils, rainwater detention tanks, and a water-dissipating level spreader, meets goals set by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to enhance water quality, while preventing stormwater infiltration into the brownfield site.
Strada was the exterior design architect, urban designer, and landscape architect for this project as part of a collaborative design team led by BWA Ltd. Strada also played a key role as the owner’s representative in an arduous planning process.