Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Services: Architecture, Planning
Awards: AIA Pittsburgh Timeless Award
Designed by IKM’s founders Ingham and Boyd in the 1930s, Chatham Village is Pittsburgh’s living example of the utopian Garden City Movement. Originally envisioned as affordable housing for the working class, its quality and aesthetic quickly developed a broad appeal to a much wider segment of society. That appeal continues today, and is a testament to the continuing validity of a vision that included preservation of the natural environment, quality, affordability and a strong sense of community.
The Mount Washington site was embraced as a rich, unique condition to be preserved and celebrated rather than manipulated to conform to a preconceived planning module. Residences are sited to work with the topography and are clustered preserving large communal open spaces. Front doors open onto shared green space, and automobiles are relegated to the periphery of the development. Construction materials are high quality, low maintenance, time honored and enduring. Large individual lots are eschewed in favor of richly landscaped courtyards to be enjoyed by all, and site planning encourages social interaction and a communal responsibility.
Chatham Village has been designated a U.S. National Historic District, a Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation Historic Landmark, and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. In October 2011, as the design architects celebrated their 100-year anniversary, Chatham Village was honored by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects with the “Timeless” Design Award.
Now in its eighth decade this thriving community continues much as its designers originally envisioned. Its continuing success underscores the timeless nature of the design, and the fact that many of its embodied ideals are current topics in design and planning circles suggests that its lessons are every bit as relevant today as they were eighty years ago.