Just in time for this year’s Step Trek (today), the 18th Street steps lit up last night and the South Side Slopes will never be the same.
This was an elaborate project that city officials have told me probably could not be replicated if a plan to light more steps were devised. But this is surely a most ambitions and signature pilot project that suggests how this city could look if at night all the prominent steps were lit.
Ideally, they would be solar lights or LED lights and set to come on only when it is dark. Imagine the view of the hillsides as you are driving on the parkway or on the ribbons of elevated concrete on the North Shore. Vertical lines of light would peek through the trees in summer and etch color into the bare landscape of winter. What fun it could be.
Architect Peter Kreuthmeier alerted me to the 18th Street steps lighting project a few weeks ago. It turned out to be one of the last acts of the late South Side Local Development Co., which dissolved over the summer.
Loysen + Kreuthmeier designed the poles, signage, step lights and installation. Here’s Peter to explain:
“Steve Iski of studio i lighting helped us with the specs for the theatrical projectors – three per pole that will throw colored, patterned light on the stair treads for an ambient kind of carpet.
“The light poles (steel I-beams that are forked at the top) and signage are made from cor-ten, an alloy of steel that oxidizes naturally over time and requires no maintenance. Our earlier gateway projects for the Slopes are also in cor-ten, a visceral material that resonates with the historic industrial lifeblood of the South Side.”
The project began as a feasibility study, with renderings to seek out possible funding sources, he said. Duquesne Light contributed funding and the city, which owns the steps, worked out the legal parts.
Photos courtesy of Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects