Thanks to Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh is the first city to be featured in Jaunt, the free mobile app that allows users to navigate a curated collection of our city’s historic and modern architecture. More than 105 entries are featured, from buildings to bridges to industrial sites, including the Emerald Art Glass House, David McCullough Bridge, Carrie Furnaces and Fallingwater.

The app features a map view based on the GPS of the user’s phone and a grid view (pictured below) to see an overview of everything offered. Content can be sorted by architect, date, location, status, style, or use.

Each entry contains a detailed architectural description and, in some cases, photographs and design drawings. There is also a limited number of unbuilt projects—such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision for the Point—as well as demolished buildings such as the Civic Arena.

jaunt pittsburgh grid

Looking at buildings on Jaunt with the grid view.

“Sometimes things that don’t get built trigger discussion,” says Rami el Samahy, principal of the design firm over,under which created the app. “And with something like the Civic Arena, love it or hate it, if you weren’t here prior to 2012, you may know nothing about that building, so you can imagine that in less than a generation that will be gone. Yet it was a key piece of the Pittsburgh skyline and a true Pittsburgh story constructed of Pittsburgh steel and designed by a Pittsburgh firm.”

While the design firm over,under, is located in Boston, the Pittsburgh connection comes through Rami el Samahy, who until recently was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture.

Pittsburgh is the first official Jaunt city, with Boston and Doha, Qatar to follow. Students from CMU’s Doha campus provided the information systems and designed the technology for the app but the designers wanted to start in Pittsburgh because of the amazing resources at the CMU Architecture Archives.

“It’s an exciting city to do, not an obvious choice,” says el Samahy. “Pittsburgh is a great city and has amazing examples of some of America’s finest architecture from all eras.”

Martin Aurand, architecture librarian and archivist at the CMU Architecture Archives, provided resources through the library to digitize original drawings and photographs that the public would not necessarily be able to easily access. He also provided “energy and knowledge” according to el Samahy, and much of the descriptive writing for the app.

Each description includes an “additional reading” section with recommended books and articles.

The team behind the app includes students from the CMU School of Architecture and from the CMU Qatar campus. Support for the project came from the Carnegie Mellon University Architecture Archives and the Berkman Faculty Development Fund.

Download the Jaunt Pittsburgh guide here.

About The Author

contributing writer

Maya Henry is a writer, blogger and planner who has worked for the City of Pittsburgh, at the nonprofit Lawrenceville Corporation marketing and supporting small businesses in Lawrenceville, and at AIA Pittsburgh. Maya received an M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University in 2008.

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