R3A Blog

R3A Blog

BATHS at the Billboard YAS Competition Award Winner

R3A Project Leader: Brian Pagnotta
R3A Team: Breanna Praechter, Ben-Quint Glick, Jozef Petrak, Patrick Russell

The existing Bayer Billboard.

R3A's AIA Award Winning Young Architects Studio Competition Design

Last Thursday R3A attended the 2015 AIA Pittsburgh Awards Ceremony and Gala, where we were pleased to take home the award for the Young Architects Studio Competition. Now in its sixth year, the goal of this competition is to engage young architects, emerging design professionals and students, by challenging them to find innovative ways to approach a regional design problem.

The Challenge
This year the Young Architects Studio Competition partnered with the City of Pittsburgh and the Office of Mayor Peduto as part of the ongoing Pittsburgh 200 celebration. The Pittsburgh 200 is a celebration of the City of Pittsburgh’s incorporation in 1816. The Mayor’s goal is to engage and excite Pittsburghers about our City’s history, helping them to recognize how far we’ve come, as well as celebrate where we are today and will be in the future. Our team worked extremely hard on the submission and it paid off.  Take a look below at the submission of “BATHS at the Billboard”.

A Sign of the Times: Reimagining the Bayer Billboard Site
In line with the Pittsburgh 200 theme, the Young Architects Studio Competition has decided to focus on a true Pittsburgh icon that celebrates our history and future: the Bayer Billboard Site. The Bayer sign was built in the 1920s, and has several incarnations and names such as the Alcoa sign, which rented the space from 1962 to 1993. The sign has previously been used for advertising, both public and private. It currently spells out the name PITTSBURGH in mosaic block colors, but is hard to read due to years of neglect and fading. Bayer declined its lease of the sign from Lamar Advertising in 2014, and the city is currently reimagining the future for the sign and the surrounding landscape. In 2012, the Young Preservationists Association named it the best historic preservation opportunity. The challenge for this competition is to propose a new use for this iconic site.”

Nestled into the hillside, the Baths at the Billboard uses reclaimed water to create a sensual and restorative experience with an unrivaled view. Once a symbol of corporate advertisement, the Bayer Billboard will be revitalized as a valuable recreational amenity that promotes ecological awareness and responsibility for the city of Pittsburgh. From this vantage point, users can encounter the infinity pool cantilevering over Mt. Washington, the Pittsburgh skyline, and the confluence of the three rivers below that the stormwater directly affects. 

A few of R3A's team members accepting their award with WQED’s Rick Sebak at the AIA Award Ceremony and Gala - Oct 22

Much of the city’s infrastructure carries both stormwater runoff and sewage, causing detrimental overflows during periods of heavy rainfall and melting snow. A complete overhaul of the existing system would be costly, but by diverting some of this water, pollution can be greatly reduced. Utilizing natural solutions, runoff can be decelerated and redirected through collection, sedimentation, aeration, and filtration, while also beautifying the existing neighborhood.

The Bayer Billboard is in disrepair, rusted and worn from decades of use. Yet, this massive advertisement possesses a nostalgic quality, referencing the industrial history of a city that has now found revival as a center of innovation. Like much of Pittsburgh’s  aged building stock, the billboard creates an opportunity for the past to be reimagined. By maintaining the billboard framework, the city’s history is not forgotten, but instead adapted for the needs of today. The Baths provide citizens with an awareness of runoff issues, and a renewed understanding of clean water, propelling the city into a more sustainable future.