The Future of Pittsburgh

May 7

What is the future of Pittsburgh?

In mid-April at the newly renovated Energy Innovation Center, a large crowd of 300+ gathered to hear regional and international industry leaders and thought provokers discuss this exact question. The p4 Conference — People, Plant, Place and Performance — was held at this venue for a reason. It perfectly embodied the spirit of what the conference was all about — to promote innovation, sustainability, and urban economic revitalization. The Energy Innovation Center is located in between the downtown business district and the city’s two largest research universities. It exists to “contribute to socially responsible workforce development, foster energy and sustainable technology advancement, and assist in job creation through a commitment to diversity, innovation and comprehensive education” (

Energy Innovation Center, 1435 Bedford Ave.

In the last couple of years Pittsburgh has landed on all kinds of “Best Of” lists and been called the new Portland and Brooklyn. But as Heinz Endowments, the leading sponsor of p4, pointed out in their mission video: all of these flattering lists and rankings don’t tell the whole story of what has to come next for the city.

Fireman Creative was lucky enough to attend the conference and get a first-hand account of the ideas that can continue to transform Pittsburgh into a forward-thinking, inclusive city of the future. Also in attendance at the conference was Mark Hatch, the CEO of TechShop — the premier “playground for creativity” that gives Pittsburgh residents access to over $1 million of cutting edge tools and software. TechShop literally wants you to build your dreams with them. Places like TechShop are thriving in this Maker Movement that we’re living in because there’s been a shift in interest of people who don’t only want to be consumers, they want to actually make things. AdWeek defines the Maker Movement as the “umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers.”

Mark Hatch, CEO and Founder of TechShop

Another notable highlight from p4 was speaker Jesper Nygard (pictured in the middle), the CEO of Realdania, a private philanthropic organization based in Copenhagen. Realdania’s mission is simple — to improve the quality of life for all by developing and supporting projects in the built environment. He spoke at p4 about the work Realdania is doing in Denmark to strengthen the citizens and the city through “new and adapted physical surroundings that fully consider the physical and mental health of all social groups and that promote social inclusion.” His parting message to Pittsburgh about what we should learn from the work Realdania does was simple — the complexity is higher but the method is the same. We need to trust each other, bring other interests and parties in because complex problems can’t be solved by any one person. It’s an exciting time for Pittsburgh, and we can’t wait to see where we go from here.

From Left: Matthew Mahalik of Sustainable Pittsburgh, Jesper Nygard of Realdania, Paul Fireman of Fireman Creative

Check out more information about the p4 Conference and share with us what you think the future of Pittsburgh really holds.

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