The economic decline that accompanied the collapse of the steel industry in western Pennsylvania has been a persistent problem for the flood-prone city of Johnstown, where Thaddeus Pawlowski (LF '15) grew up. But city leaders committed to revitalization have been shifting their economic development focus from steel and defense industries to heritage, tourism, and the arts. They invited an A-list of Loeb consultants for a 3-day charrette to focus on the deteriorated river walls and the river (the source of historic anxiety) as part of the solution to Johnstown’s larger set of economic, social, and ecological challenges. The gathering was supported by a Loeb Fellowship Alumni Council grant.
Working with the mayor, civic leaders (including Pawlowski’s parents Rosemary and Edwin), residents, and a representative from the Army Corps of Engineers required a range of expertise–in regional planning, watershed management, tactical urbanism, economic development, and community engagement. The team assembled fit the bill: Charles McKinney (LF ’94) is an expert in placemaking and the intersection of public purpose and ecology; Damon Rich (LF ’07) knows how to build community support. Anne Marie Lubenau (LF ’12), in addition to promoting transformative urban projects and design, has a long history working in southwestern Pennsylvania. Julie Campoli (LF ‘10) knows walkable urbanism and riverine flooding. Marc Norman (LF ’15) has created housing and economic development solutions for vulnerable communities, and LaShawn Hoffman (LF ’15) has mobilized disadvantaged communities for greater representation in the planning process..
The final word from the Army Corps of Engineers representative who has worked closely with the city for the past year: since the charrette he has a clearer vision of what Johnstown’s after and what programs and projects might achieve the goals. Pawlowski and the Loebs will continue to work in Johnstown with a tactical urbanism workshop this summer with Loeb Fellow Andrew Howard ('15).