For many years, Mt. Lebanon has partnered with the Design Center of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit organization that “advocates for the value of good design, planning and public policy to support more livable and sustainable communities in the Pittsburgh region.” Mt. Lebanon’s historic preservation board has worked with the center to recruit and train volunteer architects and also co-sponsored a workshop for municipal professionals titled “Good Design Makes Dollars and Sense,” which was well-attended and well-received.
In addition, the center’s volunteer architects, landscape architects and interior designers have provided affordable design consults to many Mt. Lebanon homeowners who were considering addition or renovations. This magazine has featured several of the projects that resulted.
With a new president and CEO, Steven Glassman, and a largely new staff, the design center has expanded its presence and retooled its vision: the center “envisions a region where design is accessible, valued and celebrated throughout diverse and connected communities.” Its primary focus is to serve the region’s less affluent neighborhoods, where residents might not otherwise have access to professional design expertise. While still providing design consults, the center is actively fund-raising through the new Design Fund in order to provide services at little or no cost to those who cannot afford to pay. And the center has begun offering Renaissance Grants to neighborhoods that apply for funding for small renewal projects.
Also new to the Design Center is an education and advocacy initiative—Design Allies—which “seeks to enhance the design literacy and public engagement of our region.”
Design Allies aims to “promote public dialogue and engage people through the use of new media such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, as well as through events such as guest lectures, film screenings, community meetings, and charrettes.” To join the conversation, visit the center’s Facebook page.
In contrast to most areas of the Design Center serves, Mt. Lebanon is affluent. However, our longterm relationship with the center and our goal of preserving our architecturally distinctive neighborhoods has resulted in a plan that will allow Mt. Lebanon residents to continue to request consults with a design professionals. Consults will be billed on a sliding scale, with $200-$250 being the likely cost to most residents.
A consult consists of a design professional architect, landscape architect or interior designer visiting your home and providing you with a written action plan. If you proceed with the project, you can hire the design center professional or hire anyone you choose.
Mt. Lebanon architects may volunteer for the program.
Visit www.designcenterpgh.org or call Cate Rassman, the design consults coordinator at 412-391-4144 for more information.