Hazelwood Project

Carnegie Mellon Design School Project for local Pittsburgh neighborhood


Let’s celebrate the Hazelwood Community

From flourishing under the Steel industry’s growth and now under the threat of gentrification due to newly developing neighborhoods around, Hazelwood has gone through a lot. How can we support the residents in this current times of need?

Project Question

Hazelwood is closely related to the historic roots of Pittsburgh, the steel city. Until 2001, Hazelwood flourished with booming population and culture, drawn in thanks to the near by steel mill. However, as the steel mill closed, population decreased and crime rate increased. Currently, Hazelwood is viewed on the media as a ghetto frequently filled with gun violence, drug abuse and various crimes. Furthermore as the adjacent lot from the closed steel mill is preparing to nest an upcoming futuristic neighborhood project, Alomono, Hazelwood residents prepare for gentrification.


Carnegie Mellon University Senior Design studio conducted community design research and created an exhibit celebrating the members of Hazelwood and commemorating the past history and lost loved ones.

Research phase1. Workshops to get to know the community


Inviting the community members to teach us

We created multiple workshops to ask the residents and members of the Hazelwood community to share their stories from the past, current situations and hopes for the future.


We were inspired by the community spirit, resilient to struggles yet, open to new community members and friends.

Research phase 2. Co-designing the exhibit


Discussing the content and values of the exhibition

As the students designed the exhibition themes and pieces, we invited the community members to co-design with us and share their feedback. The process of including the members in creating the exhibit was another way of implementing empowerment and sense of belonging for the participants. Through continuously conducting workshops, interviews, and discussions throughout the design process, the final work came to be genuinely centered around the Hazelwood community.

Design needs:

Accumulating and visually representing the support for the community. Feeling how much love Hazelwood currently has, there no need to fear the future.


Wall of voices

Empowerment through identifying yourself in the community

We wanted an accumulative community art wall, on which every member can express their presence in the community. The individual contributions become small pieces in a whole puzzle, together completing a bigger picture and a message.


The wall represents the present and the future of Hazelwood. Community members are empowered to build the future of their town by recognizing oneself as a significant contributor to the community. The the collection of their participation creates a colorful mosaic revealing messages from community members.

Exhibition Photos

Media Coverage of the Exhibition:

Pittsburgh NPR