PPG Plaza

Between Third and Fourth Avenues, downtown Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA

Submitted by: R Dylewski

"PPG Plaza is nothing more than a sidewalk on steroids."

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Why It Doesn't Work

PPG Plaza is nothing more than a sidewalk on steroids, with all the charm therein. Designed by celebrity architect Phillip Johnson as part of his suite of several glass-turreted PPG buildings, it is a desolate space you are prone to cross quickly, in an effort to limit your time spent there. In the center of the square is a rather squat olbelisk, mounted on a stone plinth. Locally, it is often described as the sort of place that firing squads would use.

Instead of adding to the public space of Pittsburgh, PPG Plaza subtracted. The recent wintertime addition of a skating rink is only one example of ways in which people have desperately tried to make this space work.

What Puts PPG Plaza in the Hall of Shame?

The PPG buildings which border this square of three sides are heartless glass towers. When walking in the square you don't quite know where to look - as the buildings are uninspired toys, and the square has no focus or charm.

Sitting in PPG Plaza is frowned upon, particularly on the plinth that dominates the center of the square. Rent-A-Cops will shoo away those who try. Occasionally some tables and chairs will be set up for the lunchtime crowd - but nothing permanent is intended. The entire visual script reads, "stay away."

As above.

No one in their right mind would show off this place as a source of "urban pride." And few people meet there. It is too large and disorienting. The problem would be: Where would you tell people to meet you? It's all the same.

Contact Info:

PPG Industries. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Pittsburgh Urban Maget Program.

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