Walkabout is recruiting a crew of guest bloggers to write about city neighborhood advocacy, urban design, preservation’s impact on the city’s future, practices in sustainable living and stories about personal efforts in all these areas.
We are debuting this feature this summer with Christine Graziano (in photo at left), an environmental planner and designer who was working professionally on sustainable plans and design before everyone started using the word "sustainability."
She has worked on projects from ecological design to regional and town planning.
Christine was a high school activist who got an undergraduate degree in environmental studies and policy from the State University of New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry. She later earned a master’s in landscape architecture and regional planning coupled with natural resource management at the University of Pennsylvania.
She and her family relocated to Pittsburgh two years ago when her husband accepted a job as a professor in physics and astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh.
“I had visited the area once before on a two day trip in 2006,” she wrote. “I drove from Princeton, N.J., where I lived then, specifically to see a landscape architecture project — Michael Van Valkenburgh’s Allegheny Riverfront Park project. I also stopped to see Fallingwater. Friends took me to the South Side at night and Phipps Conservatory by day. All of these places left me saying that I had to come back to see more when I had the time. Little did I know...”
After living briefly in Bloomfield and the Strip District, the couple chose to settle in Shadyside.
“We felt it was important to make our lifestyle as sustainable as possible, which for us meant situating ourselves close to work and within short walking distance of shops and grocery stores. The house we chose is near East Liberty, the shops at Highland Avenue and Walnut Street. We are a one-car family and prefer to be a no-car family.”
Besides consulting with a local landscape architecture and planning firm, she also worked at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. That job led to an adjunct teaching position in the School of Architecture’s fifth year Urban Lab studio.
“As an urbanist, I have a particular interest in green infrastructure and sustainable food systems from the on-ground design opportunities to community development and policies that enable them. In Pittsburgh, some of the greatest potential can be found in what we might call ‘the in-between spaces.’ This is where I’d like to focus.
"The in-between spaces are in many ways where the work of city building happens. It is where the interests and practice of different professions and trades meet and merge - landscape architects, designers, architects, ecologists, planners, engineers and builders.
"A compelling and highly livable city is layered in complexity and it is the strategic and coordinated efforts of various professionals, government officials and citizens from the international and national levels to the block, street and lot level, which lead to truly sustainable, accessible, diverse, resilient, and regenerative places."
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