Market Square Place, the loft apartment and ground-floor retail space next to Market Square in the former G. C. Murphy building, netted another design honor last week when the Congress for New Urbanism bestowed it with a Charter Award of Merit for the Best Block, a national honor, at its 22nd annual conference.

Designed by Strada and developed by Millcraft Investments, Market Square Place combines seven historic buildings to house 46 loft-style apartments above 25,000 square-feet of ground-floor retail and a large commercial space occupied by the PNC YMCA. The building has previously won awards for both design and sustainability.

“What’s exciting about this project is that it’s a confluence of good urbanism, adaptive reuse and green design,” says Strada’s Michael Stern, who attended the meeting and brought back the hardware. “It’s a very complex collection of buildings we tied together into one project.”

The complex, which opened in 2010, was fully leased within its first four months on the market.

Jeremy Waldrup, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, says the project has been important in helping to revive Market Square.

“I think that project really has kicked off a number of great things in Downtown,” Waldrup says. “Projects like that from the private sector show that Market Square is back, and it was a catalyst for a lot of other projects.”

There is about $490 million in construction occurring within a two-block radius of Market Square.

“One of the most exciting things about it is how it’s been a keystone in the revitalization of a district,” agrees Stern. “For 15 or 20 years, there was a lot of debate about how to revitalize Fifth and Forbes Avenues. The buildings were kind of abandoned and derelict.”