Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo

square project rendering

September 17, 2018

Square Project Will Serve as Campus Connector

By Bruce Gerson

As Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus expands to the north and west, the Square Project aims to be the tie that binds.

Named for its town-square-like location, the project aims to transform the intersection of Forbes and Morewood avenues into a visually pleasing, pedestrian friendly conduit that connects the Cut with the new Tepper Quad and beyond.

Ralph Horgan, associate vice president for Campus Design and Facility Development (CDFD), said the project is part of a continuing effort to “knit together the two sides of Forbes Avenue.”

“The Cohon University Center addition was the first building on campus that was built to intentionally engage Forbes Avenue. And now we have the Tepper Quad with nothing in the middle. This project is part of bringing that engagement across Forbes, to make Forbes more pedestrian friendly, safer, more appealing, and integrate the roadway into campus,” Horgan said.

Bob Reppe, senior director of planning and design for CDFD, said the two-phase Square Project has several design goals. Among them are “turning the corner” around Warner Hall to open sight lines to the Tepper Quad, and improving the safety of pedestrian routes and their accessibility.

CDFD is teaming up on the project with Sasaki Associates, a global design firm that specializes in landscape architecture. Sasaki created the landscape design for the Tepper Quad as well as for the Schenley Plaza in Oakland.

“This project is very similar to the Schenley Plaza,” Reppe said. “It’s a public space with a road cutting through it. Safety and accessibility are big parts of the project.”

Phase 1 of the project is eliminating the concrete wall adjacent to Warner Hall and replacing it with terraced landscaping to open the view to the Tepper Quad. The sidewalk in front of Warner Hall is being widened and the steep set of stairs from Warner to Forbes is being replaced.

“We’re putting in a processional set of stairs — four groups of stairs that cascade down the terrain,” Reppe said. “We’re shallowing the run with big landings in between each set of stairs.”

The Forbes sidewalk, from Cyert Hall to the bus stop just east of Morewood, is being redone to mirror the treatment along the Tepper Quad. An 8-foot-wide planting strip will be installed between the sidewalk and curb, and light posts will be added to improve safety for pedestrians.

Phase 1 is expected to be completed in November. Phase 2 calls for enlarging the bus stop and installing wide, diagonal and accessible sidewalks from Morewood to the Cohon Center, and from the bus stop to Warner Hall.

“When Bus Rapid Transit comes to Pittsburgh and this stop becomes the CMU station, we want it to be welcoming and accessible,” Horgan said.