Market Square is a unique open space in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. Until the downtown partnership began implementing short-term actions based on PPS’ plan in 2007, the square had been seen as unsafe, largely because it had minimal uses throughout the day and especially after 5pm.

PPS facilitated a public Placemaking workshop with neighborhood groups and individuals to generate ideas for uses and activities that will form the program for the future design and management of the square. Some short-term recommendations that came from the workshops included reducing the foliage around the perimeter of the square in order to increase sightlines, promoting a feeling of openness and safety, widening sidewalks for outdoor cafes, installing lighting in trees and adding movable seating. Events and programming were also recommended such as an improved farmers market with upgraded stalls and a more diverse selection of products available; special events and performances, and street performers.

Long term recommendations included rebuilding the stage in a more appropriate location as a retractable structure with a tented shelter; repaving the entire square to be at the same level all around which would promote access from surrounding businesses and sidewalks;  and constructing archways into the square from all arteries. A plan for a public/private partnership to oversee management, programming, future improvements, marketing, etc. was also suggested to foster the changes necessary for the square to realize its potential.

Updates:

  • In October 2010, Pittsburgh Market Square opened to great fanfare.  Significant improvements have been made to Market Square and the full redesign utilized many of PPS’ recommendations and plans to create an anchor for the city’s downtown.
  • In this new article, “Market Square Regains its Historic Luster,” the Pittsburgh Tribune interviews Nick Nicholas, the third generation to run the Nicholas Coffee Co. at Pittsburgh’s Market square, who says he has seen a number of changes to Market Square over the years. “I think they finally got it right this time. They closed the traffic to the buses. It’s more people-friendly now, having one big plaza instead of four quadrants.”