Zach Petroff | Opinions Editor
Dec. 1, 2022
There is nothing worse than walking back to the dorms in the middle of the night as the winter winds of Pittsburgh attack the exposed skin. The dreadful trudge across the bluff to get to living quarters will become a distant memory for some future students as plans to build a new dormitory are set in motion.
On Nov. 15, the City Planning commission approved plans for a 12-story dormitory for the 1000 block on Forbes Avenue, replacing the surface parking lot next to the Power Center. The new dormitory will include 226 apartment-style units and house approximately 550 Duquesne students.
While details are still being finalized, the new building will include amenity spaces, bike parking, a fitness area and outdoor courtyards, said Gabriel Welsch, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, in an email.
The plan for the opening of the new dormitory coincides with the opening of the College of Osteopathic Medicine in the fall of 2024.
Ryan Indovina of Indovina Associates Architects, Sam Rajamanickam of Design Collective spoke and Dan McDowell of LaQuatra Bonci Associates spoke in front of the Pittsburgh City Planning Committee on behalf of the Forbes Avenue Student Housing Project.
The over hour long session covered a variety of information from layout design and zoning to the environmental impact. Included was a study on the impact of the sun on the building as part of Duquesne’s efforts to provide maximum natural daylight.
“A quick shadow study for the three distinct times of the where the sun has most impact, at equinox, at summer solstice, and winter solstice the public spaces are organized in such a manner to take advantage of the southern sun, so there is plenty of sunshine for a majority of the year and will be a welcoming space,” Rajamanickam said to the committee. “Most of the shadows cast particularly when the sun is at its lowest angles will have limited impact on buildings along Watson.”
There is also a plan for a pocket park in between the Power Center and the new dorm.
“This park allows for more of the students from the building and the patrons of the restaurant located in the Power Center to enjoy the open space,” McDowell told the committee.
There will also be a landscape plaza to the east of the dormitory and an entry courtyard that will have both semi-private active and passive spaces.
The building will have two entry ways- one at the center of the building and one through the landscape plaza to the east. The entry level will be dedicated to the student amenities that include a game room and student spaces.
These active view spaces will be organized along Forbes Avenue to provide a vibrant and active facade Rajamanickam explained to the committee.
A courtyard is also being planned that will not be a parking lot but will be accessible to vehicles. There are no plans to make it a permanent parking space.
This is part of Duquesne’s 10 year plan to implement “a multi-faceted approach to increase multi-modal transportation options for students, faculty and staff on campus while reducing the use of single occupant vehicles for both employees and students, with an employee goal of reduction from 80.2% to 60% SOVs and a student goal of reduction from 39.9% to 30% SOVs,” according to the Duquesne Institutional Master Plan released in October 2021.
“There are some studies done on student activity. There could be farmer markets as well as food truck events or just student use,” said McDowell on the proposed courtyard.
There is also an emphasis on being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“It’s a university priority to ensure that all members of our campus community enjoy full and equal access to our services and facilities. The new residence hall will feature ADA-compliant units and meet ADA Standards for Accessible Design, will support Duquesne’s sustainability initiatives and seek to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditation,” Welsch said.
“The project, along with the proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM), will enable Duquesne to complete its presence on the Forbes Avenue corridor. While the surface lot on Forbes Avenue will close for construction, more surface permit parking will be developed nearby and upon the projected opening of both the new residence hall and the COM in 2024.” Welsch said.