Up until now, he has largely focused his public awareness meetings in the Hill District, where he has found, mostly, that folks don't care. Now, he is expanding his radius to the whole of Pittsburgh, hoping that we will fall in love with the idea that the Igloo is to Pittsburgh as the Eye is to Seattle.
They have a very comprehensive website where you can read for yourself and decide if you think the building is worth saving.
I think that Pittsblog captures the general public sentiment:
"The Igloo should go. It is not the Pantheon; it is not Penn Station. It is an eyesore. The space occupied by that building represents an opportunity to re-create and re-invent a big slice of Pittsburgh's urban fabric. (Of course, given Pittsburgh's history with redevelopment over the last 50 years, the city might well blow its big chance.) But that's just me."But there are some, like me, who have drunk the Kool-Aid. Personally, I find the building to be an icon. Looking out from my deck, I can see the
But mostly, Mr Pfaffman is selling the building and not a vision. One of the foremost plans I've heard for reuse is turning the decrepit arena into a boutique hotel. He says this is not about "nostalgia," but I have to say that the only ones wanting to stay in an over-priced arena boutique hotel are those overcome by nostalgia. For the residents of the Hill District, this would not be an amenity, just yet another reason for rich folks to stop through. Another reuse idea I hear floated about is as a non-professional sporting arena. Folks have championed ideas from a hockey rink to a velodrome. Once again, this is meant to appeal to general area dwellers and is not marketed at the Hill District. These plans will not generate any more or less jobs for Hill District residents than the Penguins plan.
Throwing a bone to Hill District residents, Pfaffman has plans for a walk with interpretive signs.
Needless to say, another multi-multi-million dollar project with some spare change thrown into interpretive signs, doesn't get Hill District residents involved and interested. If Rob Pfaffman and his crew really want to save the arena, they will find a vision for the new site that appeals to Hill District residents. Historians and those stepped-on by history have a chance of creating the momentum that will be needed to sway the Penguins management. How about a Hill District charter school on the site? Or a museum dedicated to the area?
Lastly, may I suggest a compromise? Incorporating architectural elements of the old building into the new development would act as a reminder and a teaching point for years to come. At the Waterfront, we have relic smoke stacks. At Station Square, there is an old train car. While these are not perfect examples, at least it's something. Clearly, it's too early for either side to give in to compromise, but I hope that in the end they find some middle ground.
Thanks to Eve Picker for putting together an informative panel and generating a lively discussion on the future of the Igloo at the monthly CityLive! event. If you haven't been to a CityLive! event and you care about issues in the city, you're really missing out on a great time. Next up, on June 29, Eve and her crew are tackling the issue of water in the city. RSVP today. Bonus? The events are free.