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Starting in January 2018 a multi-phased investigation effort kicked off with funding support from The Buhl Foundation and Metro21: Smart Cities Institute via funding from The Hillman Foundation.  

Phases of the effort include:
  1. Dedicated due diligence as a Systems Synthesis project conducted by Heinz College masters students in the Spring of 2018.  (see systems project here)

    • The student team attended the 2018 PostalVision 2020 Conference to share ideas and present concepts.​

  2. Generation of a first of a kind strategy to distill a process and framework for how postal facilities can be more integrated into a community resilience strategy to inform future postal policy; partnerships; and economic development investments.  

    • Critical questions also include whether there is a correlation between population decline and postal facility suspensions and secondarily if there is a correlation between broadband internet access and suspended facilities.

    • GIS Mapping and analysis of multiple different data set (locally, statewide, and nationally) was conducted to evaluate priority areas in context of suspended, leased postal facilities.  

    • A key outcome is the development of a decision making framework evaluating different facility types in different locations integrating different property interventions.

    • Butcher was invited to share the strategy concept in with the Postal Innovation Platform’s 2018 Newsletter.  

  3. Development of pilot project recommendations in Pittsburgh targeting different facility types in different locations.  

    • Butcher was invited to present the concept at the Smart Regions Conference - Smart Infrastructure Challenge.  

  4. Plan and production of a first of a kind Places and Postal Forum to engage stakeholders and bridge a knowledge divide between postal domain experts and place-based, economic development expertise.  (see forum overview here)

    • A preliminary visioning charrette was produced in April 2018 convening 16 postal system experts in collaboration with George Mason University.

  5. The development of an interdisciplinary course between the Heinz College, The School of Architecture and The School of Design serving as an innovation lab to further hone concepts for facility repurposing with a particular focus on community commons and tactical urbanism. (See course overview here)

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