I, as well as five classmates, proposed a plan to the non-profit, Rivers of Steel, for how to transform what is currently a tour-only furnace into a public park with a historical presence. My area of focus was the wayfinding for entering the park.
WHAT IS CARRIE FURNACE?
Carrie Furnace is the only pre-World War II iron furnace left in the Pittsburgh area, producing a key component of steel for over 70 years. Given the rich history of Pittsburgh in relation to the American Steel Industry, the importance of Carrie cannot be understated.
To welcome a visitor into the park there needed to be a clear experience threshold, separating the modern world from Carrie. The museum acts as that threshold and a hub for several bike trails; encouraging cyclist traffic was one of my priorities. Finally, educating visitors about Carrie and the Steel Industry is crucial to increasing the appreciation for the furnace.
An earth berm would be able integrate into the current structure of the furnace and surrounding area without distracting from Carrie itself.
Main cyclist entrance
Those biking towards Carrie Furnace will see it from far away as the furnaces tower over 92 feet. But, the closer bikers are to Carrie, the more obscured their sight line becomes. The fork in the road features a reveal of the furnace and encourages cyclists to turn right; the widening of the path affords slowing down and stopping.
Entrance from parking lot
Car parking is single row of spots in order to reduce the weight of the cars and will result in more time between parking one's car and entering the park, further emphasizing the separation of the modern world from Carrie. Trees deprive visitors of the view of Carrie as they walk to the museum, encouraging them to enter the park itself, versus spending time looking at the furnace next to their car.
Secondary cyclist entrance
Bikers visiting or passing through Carrie will have a choice over whether to approach the furnace or to avoid it. The reward for biking through the park, a more intimate and thus our ideal option, is an unrestricted view of the furnaces and cowper stoves.
The museum itself is small, meant only to increase the sense of appreciation one feels for Carrie Furnace through education. The goal was for a visitor to spend minimal in the museum, so they could experience the wonder of the park firsthand.
There is only one main room, leaving few options for a visitor to explore before leaving.
The curving interior is meant to draw visitors away from the museum and into the park while separating the museum content from the visual experience of seeing Carrie. Due to the curvature of the museum, it’s impossible to experience both stimuli at the same time.
My first museum was intended to feel small and light, clearly subordinate to the size and materiality of Carrie. The bend in the bike path forces cyclists to slow down, leaving more time for them to consider entering the museum.
With this model, I experimented with immersing bikers into the furnace grounds with a path leading to the top of the retaining wall. I also wanted to encourage commuting cyclists to enter the park instead of just going around.