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A Brick Front Porch for Pittsburgh

By Quinn Dalton






The Pittsburgh Sports and Exhibition Authority wanted a 100-year life span for the project. The 200-year-old clay pavers still in use in Boston's Beacon Hill area were used as an example to reaffirm their decision.


In 1997, Pittsburgh's Sports and Exhibition Authority began the highly anticipated redevelopment of one of the city's key downtown locations – a riverside park built on the footprint of the now-demolished Three River Stadium. Dubbed the North Shore Riverfront Park, the two-mile park along the Allegheny River will be the centerpiece of a comprehensive redevelopment project to create a mixed-use urban village with hotels, shops and residential units.

Landscape architecture company EDAW was hired to build the North Shore Riverfront Park as well as the "front porch" of the park, an esplanade about 2,000 feet long and 32-feet wide that will link the city's baseball stadium, PNC Park, and the city's new football stadium, Heinz Field. In addition to a half-mile stretch of the park, the esplanade was complete last summer.

Distinctive

To create a distinctive, classy look, EDAW specified Iron Spot and Buff colored interlocking clay pavers made by Pine Hall Brick in Winston-Salem, NC. "We chose brick because we wanted to create a feeling that this was a special place," says Dennis Carmichael, vice president of EDAW and principal designer of the project.

Although concrete was less expensive, Carmichael says EDAW had no trouble convincing the Sports and Exhibition Authority to invest in clay pavers for the esplanade. "They wanted it to be first class, and they wanted a 100-year life span for the project," says Carmichael. "We used the brick to set off the esplanade from the rest of the park, and it was intentionally built wide so that it could be a gathering place, an area that the city will use for festivals and celebrations."

Durable

"Knowing we were building this for the next generation, we wanted a material that would provide the durability necessary to withstand high-traffic usage and weather extremes while maintaining its beauty and integrity," says Carmichael. "Clay pavers are more durable in that they hold their color longer and handle freeze-thaw cycles better compared to other paving alternatives."

According to Ted Corvey, Paver Business Director of Pine Hall Brick, the 200-year-old clay pavers still in service in Beacon Hill in Boston are all the proof needed to demonstrate that clay pavers can stand the test of time. "You may see an older paver that has failed, but usually that's because the paver was actually not a paver at all but a "solid" face brick not fired to the proper temperature," says Corvey. "Today's clay pavers are made to stand up to everything that man and Mother Nature can hand out."






The two-mile long North Shore Riverfront Park along the Alleheny River is the centerpiece of a redevelopment project that will create a mixed-use urban village with hotels, shops and residential units (above). The esplanade (below) is 2,000 feet long and 32-feet wide and proved to be a popular attraction even before construction was complete.







Today's pavers meet the most stringent ASTM standards -- providing compressive strengths in excess of 10,000psi, and cold water absorptions of less than six percent -- making them durable enough to handle the harshest North American freeze-thaw environments, where the use of de-icing salts are common.

Versatile

Because natural deposits of clay differ slightly from region to region, similar colors will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, offering a wide range of choice. While the most common color is red, that color can be altered through a firing technique called flashing, which changes some red pavers to browns and charcoals to form what is known as "full range" or blends. Other clays like kaolin and fire clay can be mixed with red clay (or fired alone) to produce lighter colors like pink and buff.

"Using clay pavers gave us the versatility to incorporate color as a design element," says Carmichael. "In addition to ensuring our brickscape didn't look like a thousand other places, we chose the colors Buff and Iron Spot because they worked well with the granite and sandstone elements used in the project."

Whatever the color, the vitrification process – kiln firing at 2000 degrees – means that clay pavers don't fade or change color over time.

Functional

For those who might have had any doubts about the functionality of using clay pavers in a high-traffic application, Corvey sites research and high manufacturing standards to dispel the misconceptions about irregularities that stemmed from older brick-making methods.

"All clay pavers will interlock provided they have optimum spacing, but size control is critical. Research conducted by J.M. Clifford concludes that proper joint width (1/8") is important to establishing optimum interlock," says Corvey.

Clay pavers interlock effectively in any properly designed sand-set segmental pavement – pedestrian or vehicular – creating terrain that is as easy to travel as it is beautiful.

The reactions of the citizens of Pittsburgh is proof that the city and EDAW made the right choice.

"We had to shoo joggers away from the esplanade while we were still doing construction," says Carmichael. "People love it."

Quinn Dalton is Public Relations Director at King’s English



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June 27, 2019, 2:04 am PDT

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