Neighborhood Allies’ Social Impact Design Team Partners with UpstreamPgh to Envision Community-Inspired Projects in Fern Hollow Valley

Aug 8, 2023

UpstreamPgh restores and protects Southwestern Pennsylvania’s watershed ecosystem, while working regionally to support and implement resilient solutions for a healthier urban environment. This includes being stewards of the Nine Mile Run watershed, part of which runs directly through the Fern Hollow Valley in Frick Park. When the Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed in January of 2022, UpstreamPgh advocated for the protection of the stream, Frick Park trails, and the entire Fern Hollow Valley ecosystem as reconstruction of the vital Pittsburgh throughway took place.

Throughout 2022, they worked with researchers, partner organizations, community members, and local government officials to ensure Fern Hollow was preserved and prioritized for additional improvements. With funding from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, they then set out on a multi-year visioning process that would breathe new life and bring long-term ecological stability to the space. We joined their efforts in early 2023 as a consultant to assist with analysis of community feedback, bring equity-centered design to the forefront of the project, and create preliminary, community-driven design plans that translate the community’s vision to the wider public and potential funders.

If you’d like your voice to be heard, take the survey here: Restore Fern Hollow – UpstreamPgh

Our Social Impact Design Program translates community visions and objectives into architectural design packages that ensure development projects are focused on what residents want and need. Through our work on this project, we aim to bring those values into the design process that will inform the future restoration plans for the Fern Hollow Valley. The resulting three interventions will offer unique gathering spaces that stretch along a half-mile portion of the stream and compliment trail improvements, such as interactive nature-based art projects, stream channel/floodplain restoration, and more.

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA