Friday, June 27, 2008

Chatham Village

I've been on a Pittsburgh kick lately - I know the city so well and just have so many things I love about it! One place I have always loved is Chatam Village. Designed as 'model' housing for blue collar workers and funded by the Buhl foundation, this development is currently a haven for white collar workers who appreciate its urban planning. Designed in 1932 in the 'Garden-city movement' as a city within a neighborhood (mt. washington, where my dad grew up!), the developement was laid from the inside out.
In this mode, people come first, cars second. The front doors face a common green space with strict rules to keep its park-like setting intact while the backs of the homes face the road / alley. Each house has a 1 car garage (and little box for the milkman to leave milk and yogurt!). The concept of the garden city movement basically was that everything was within a certain radius and could be reached with minimal contact to cars by walking through the park to school, work or the store. This neighborhood is very close to public transportation to downtown Pittsburgh (a few blocks from the 'inclines' or funicular as they're known). Cars were safely delegated to alleys.All the red brick and slate roofed townhouses must conform to a strict set of rules to keep the peaceful uniformity. Kelly green trim (this was from the 30's after all) and white blinds are a must. Because the houses are kept efficiently small, a large old mansion on the grounds is used as a community house and you can host large parties there. Back when I was still living in Pittsburgh my company had their holiday party there which I will never forget!This neighborhood exudes a quiet, peaceful air and I would LOVE to live here (even though pets are not allowed!). Read more about the neighborhood on Wikipedia. or on the American Planning Associations website.

8 comments:

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Really charming! Reminds me a bit of some parts of Forest Hills Gardens in Queens, built in the early 20th century.

Be the change..... said...

yes, AAL, this was pretty common back in the 1920-30s. I think most cities have some of these developements, although not all are as revered.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Yes, the Garden City movement is one of my favorites, and I lived in one as a child. I meant that the architecture of Chatham Village reminds me of some of the work at Forest Hills Gardens, particularly an intriguing townhouse complex there done by Wilson Eyre.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

The Chatham Village entrances, however, would look so much more appealing (and less bare) if they had awnings of some sort.

Be the change..... said...

All the entrances are somewhat different, AAL, per block of houses. Most have awnings or front porches, only that one picture shows some of the few that are bare - maybe because they face north (although they seem to be in full light in the photo) -I need to go and take some photographs of my own! The site was actually considered undevelopable because of the steep slopes so the way the project deals with this is really interesting.

Be the change..... said...

I meant to say I think the photos fail to show how the project deals with the steeply sloped site.

L said...

Oh, hell YES, you're on a Pittsburgh kick! Because you're BRILLIANT, that's why! *wink*

Thanks for showing the world a little bit of Chatham Village. One of my mentors lived there for a bit...it's stunning.

with love from Pittsburgh...

Gregory Piccini said...

I love the charm of Chatham Village.