Building a bridge between communities

Embarking on a mission to foster meaningful community engagement, the University of Pittsburgh is introducing five transformative Community Engagement Centers (CEC), etching its commitment to urban alliances. At the heart of this initiative is the Homewood CEC, where Strada’s Design with People in Mind® orchestrated a positive transformation.

The initial phase of the Homewood CEC involved transforming an empty grocery store into a 20,000 sq. ft. facility—more than just bricks and mortar, it’s a manifestation of community needs, aspirations, and insights. Strada’s mission began with a comprehensive study, laying the foundation for a space that now houses a science lab, computer lab, seminar room, classroom, and a gallery showcasing local artists’ works. The center offers educational, summer, and after-school programs for Homewood residents. Two conference rooms stand as collaborative havens, available for reservation by both Pitt affiliates and community members.

Prior to the design phase, Strada completed a study to establish the center’s program and select the site, which included engagement in extensive community outreach, and listening to the voices of Homewood to ensure the center aligned seamlessly with their needs. Simultaneously, our collaboration with the University clarified their ambitious vision, weaving together collective needs. The result—a space that not only meets diverse requirements but also exceeds client expectations.

After the successful completion of Phase 1 of the Homewood CEC, Strada continued with Phase 2. Phase 2 involved the renovation of 622 North Homewood Avenue, the building next door to the Phase 1 project. The project resulted in additional spaces for Pitt and the community including an extension of the lobby/gallery space and a new Wellness Pavilion with a teaching kitchen and consulting rooms. A Medication Education and Wellness Center, a Psychology Suite, a Pitt Education Suite, and a shell tenant space for the building owner were also part of the transformational phase 2 project.

A testament to its success, within a year of its grand opening, more than 4,500 Homewood community members crossed the CEC’s threshold, participating in an impressive 660 programs. The Homewood CEC stands as a living testament to the power of thoughtful design, community collaboration, and a shared vision of transformation. It’s more than a center—it’s a dynamic, pulsating force for positive change in the heart of Homewood.

The center is a very warm, welcoming, inviting place, and there are meaningful things to do here. This has helped build community trust in the center.

Lina Dostilio Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement - Homewood CEC