Community Design Center CEO Discusses the Place She Calls Home -- Regent Square
Anne-Marie Lubenau, outgoing CEO of the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh and resident of Regent Square, discusses the benefits and challenges of the neighborhood.
While living in Regent Square for the last 15 years, Anne-Marie Lubenau’s job and passion has been the planning and design of homes and communities.
And she says Regent Square is a great place for both.
“It’s always been a great neighborhood -- and it just keeps getting better and better,” Lubenau said.
As the CEO of the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, Lubenau has been tasked with keeping community values, design issues and preservation of the city’s character at the forefront during a continued period of change and rebirth.
“One of Pittsburgh’s calling cards is that people across the country are looking for authentic communities that are walkable, that have a character that sets them apart from others,” she said. “Pittsburgh has that in spades.”
The CDCP runs various programs and administrates efforts to unite homeowners and communities with the resources and knowledge to make smart design and planning decisions. While these efforts can vary greatly in scale, from pointing residents looking to build to contractors that can preserve an older home’s character, to advising municipalities and city government on the best way to handle population change, their efforts are united by a love of community and a love of Pittsburgh and its neighborhoods.
Regent Square in particular strikes Lubenau as a successful community.
“There are amenities here, like a business district that amazes me,” she said. “I can walk a few blocks in another direction and be in Frick Park, which in many ways is unparalleled in terms of being in the middle of a city and being in an environment where you feel like you could be in a national park.”
Lubenau’s job requires her to always be looking toward the future, however, and Regent Square’s strengths are no excuse to become complacent.
“I think the challenges include, like many successful areas, how you manage success,” she said. “And also, how we preserve the character that we have. I think a lot of us choose to live there because it’s a walkable neighborhood, and because it has older homes. How do we ensure that it stays that way?”
She’s quick to point out that Regent Square does face one significant challenge at an administrative level. Because parts of the City of Pittsburgh and Edgewood, Swissvale, and Wilkinsburg boroughs make up Regent Square, change can be difficult on a governmental level.
“I know years ago that the [Regent Square] Civic Association sponsored a study that included some recommendations for improvements that would make the streets safer for pedestrians to cross and to slow down traffic [on Braddock Avenue,]” she said. “The challenge in implementation is the result of the fact that no one municipality owns it. So how can we do that?”
Lubenau, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (and a former professor at that institution,) is leaving the CDCP this year to pursue opportunities in her field on a national level. The work of the CDCP will continue unabated, however, including initiatives in Regent Square.
The fourth annual Home Improvement Workshop is scheduled for March 19 at Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church.
With programs like the workshop and the efforts of citizens and government alike, Lubenau thinks Regent Square can continue to prosper as one of Pittsburgh’s signature neighborhoods. It starts, though, with the desire and drive to make it happen.
“So much of this revolves around leadership,” she said. “And I think one of the important qualities of leadership is the ability to pull people together and organize people around a vision.”
For more information on the upcoming workshop, visit http://www.regentsquare-rsca.org/workshop.htm.