Green Building Innovation and Design

“Completing the Loop” Wins AIA National Award for Urban Design

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FEBRUARY 9, 2023 – The Completing the Loop plan for Pittsburgh’s riverfronts, developed by Riverlife and evolve environment :: architecture, received a 2023 National American Institute of Architects (AIA) Regional and Urban Design Award. The award recognizes the best in urban design, regional and city planning, and community development. The five-member jury evaluates each submission based on how well the design addresses environmental, social, and economic issues through sustainable strategies, including enhancing quality of life and promoting social equity.

Completing the Loop (2022) outlines a ten-year vision to complete, enhance, and expand the 15-mile, 1,050-acre network of riverfront trails and green space centered on Downtown Pittsburgh and adjacent neighborhoods. “Twenty years after creating the first public vision for the redevelopment of the riverfronts, Riverlife has taken stock of what has been done, what needs to be done to address the remaining gaps, and how to improve the experience so that it is enjoyed by all,” says Matthew Galluzzo, President and CEO for Riverlife, “Completing the Loop is a uniquely Pittsburgh approach that hinges on the broad-based partnerships that we cultivate, especially with community members, property owners, and our governmental partners.”

The plan prioritizes access for neighborhoods disconnected from the river by highways and railroads and proposes a system of equitably located facilities, services, and amenities. “As cities are reimagining waterfronts as public spaces, Completing the Loop as a process and a report exemplify inventive, data-driven placemaking concepts centered around environmental and social justice” says LaShawn Burton-Faulk, Executive Director for Manchester Citizens Corporation and board member for Riverlife. Completing the Loop’s Technical Assessment outlines key steps for the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Confluence “River Rooms” and identifies projects critical to completion with in-depth analysis of the loop’s Connectivity, Places, Maintenance, Ecology, and Experience across 25 segments.

Completing the Loop was also honored last year with an American Planning Association (APA) Sustainable Communities Award, as well as an APA-Pennsylvania Planning Excellence Award. While AIA typically focuses on buildings, this prestigious national recognition underscores the design opportunities that infrastructure and green space represent for contemporary US cities. The Plan is publicly available at Completing the Loop is made possible with funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.


Since 1999, Riverlife has worked to create, activate, and celebrate Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. A nonprofit leader in building a community vision for Pittsburgh’s riverfronts, Riverlife has overseen nearly $150 million in investment in the city’s waterfront transformation, catalyzing $4.2 billion in related economic development, arts and culture spending, and ecological sustainability on or adjacent to the city’s riverbanks. We center our work on the belief that the riverfronts belong to everyone, and world-class riverfront experiences can be created for all using community-driven, equitable development and high-quality, regenerative design. For more information, visit

evolve environment :: architecture (evolveEA) is a multidisciplinary practice situated at the intersection of sustainability and the built environment. The firm’s nationally recognized planning work exemplifies its approach to helping communities and organizations pursue triple-bottom-line goals through design and strategic action.

The American Institute of Architects works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through more than 200 international, state and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation, and world. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards.

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