Tuesday, May 11, 2010



I have been agonizing recently over the potential fate of Mellon Arena. Not because I want to preserve a relic that has passed its' useful time, mind you, but because I want to usefully preserve a piece of Pittsburgh's archtectural past and an integral part of the Pittsburgh skyline.

Our political leaders, once again showing no imagination, are ready to tear down the revered structure. "The property is too valuable," we're told. "The cost of upkeep would be too high," we're reminded.

How creative they are. Good thing these people weren't around 2,000 years ago in Rome, or one of that city's most famous structures, The Coliseum, would no doubt have been razed too.

Where is the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation? Why aren't they screaming bloody murder over this? How could they not be fighting to keep this building standing?

ABOVE: Take a look about 50 feet above the ice and imagine how much space could be created when the seats were removed and the entire ceiling area was utilized...that's a lot of space!!!

But before any of you think that I'm proposing that Mellon Arena be kept in its' present form and as a tax burden...well just read on.

I propose that Mellon Arena be converted into a massive apartment complex with the ice surface preserved as a rink to be used by the community. Sure, this would take some imaginative architecture and some money, but wow, just imagine the possibilities!

For one, a "Mellon Arena" address at One, Mario Lemieux Way, would certainly be among the coolest places to live in the Burgh. The building already has tons of parking, certainly more than it would need, plus, the lower rim of the building could be converted into a variety of shops, restaurants and markets that would be used by the many occupants and Consol Energy Arena patrons.

"But wait, how can you have apartments when there would be no windows," you ask?

The answer comes in the form of a recently-created technology. Are you aware that you can now purchase a "window" that is actually a flat screen monitor? What's really interesting about this technology is that what you see out of your "window" depends on where you're standing. The company that has created this technology offers streaming views such as the Golden Gate Bridge or Times Square. The Mellon Arena Apartments could offer a live view of Pittsburgh from the living room window or also, say, Yellowstone Park in the bedroom. 

I have no idea how many apartments could be created in this large space, but it should be considerable. Would it be enough to maintain the operation of the building? Between the income from the apartments, ground floor businesses and the rink concession, I don't see how it couldn't work. Plus, the city would gain a large number of taxpayers locating in the downtown area.

For the residents, they would gain access to Pittsburgh with its' jobs and amenities. They would also save commuting to the city and could literally walk to work downtown. If they happened to be a diehard hockey fan, they could walk to Consol Energy Arena and fall to sleep at night knowing that Mario once skated below them. How could you beat that???

For that matter, there might even be a number of Penguins players and front office personnel attracted by the convenience of such an address!

C'mon Mayor Ravenstahl. There's got to be a reason why you're so ready to tear down this gorgeous piece of Pittsburgh. If I had to think of a likely excuse, it probably has something to do with some contributor's plans for that site that involves a mall or some other great usage.

But please, don't challenge our intelligence by saying that this historic building can't be preserved and brought into very productive use for the community. That's just being flat-out dishonest.

1 comment:

ted said...

I want to keep the Arena too, but apartments won't work - sure you can "digitize" a window, but you can't egress through a TV. Its a matter of public safety....