YDI began work on the PNC Park Riverwalk in 2021 and finished in time for the start of the 2022 season, with the first renovations to the park since it opened 21 years prior. This portion of the Riverwalk, part of a larger public system that winds through the city along the banks of the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela Rivers, was reimagined as a family-friendly space for Pirates fans to congregate before games and grab a bite, snap a photo, or learn a bit about the team’s storied history. PNC Park is known for having one of the best views in Major League Baseball, thanks to the beauty of the city around it – and YDI looked to those views to find inspiration for its designs.
In the kids’ area, multiple team elements combine to form a perfect photo op for fans of all ages: a backdrop of perforated metal pennants sits atop a planter that subtly references the team’s “pillbox” style caps from the 1976 National League Centennial, and a large dimensional “P” fills the foreground.
Dimensional representations of iconic quotes from Pirates announcers are spread throughout the stadium, imbuing it with another aspect of the team’s history. In the kids’ area, they take on the forms of oversized pins; elsewhere they appear as bold sculpted letters.
This three-masted ship began as a simple sketch, and ended up a charming and unique element of the Riverwalk that fills it with playful energy. Working with the Luckey Climbers company to customize some of their existing products, YDI created a Pirate-themed climbable structure that is self-contained within a protective net to ensure kids’ safety. Elsewhere, a series of 6 giant bobbleheads showcase the Pirates’ mascot and five different eras of the teams’ uniforms. An electric car fitted with an iconic Pirates “pillbox” hat serves as a mobile team store.
Younts Design worked with John Sergi to rename and rebrand several of the concessions vendors at PNC Park, including Cannonball Burger, Chicken On The Hill, and Manny’s – named after famous Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillén, who even shows up on occasion to serve food. These rebrands pull from team history, which is on display in the form of artistic renderings of vintage baseball cards over the menu boards at Manny’s, for example.
YDI explored more ways to celebrate a rich and treasured history. In a children’s area, signs depict a timeline of Pirates mascots through the years. Elsewhere, an oversized baseball card shows the historic all-minority lineup that took the field on Sept 1, 1971 in an MLB first, while a nearby plaque illustrates their positions. A series of 19 pennants flutter over the river to commemorate further points of pride for Pittsburgh: World Series, National League, and Division wins, and the legacy of the Negro League’s Grays and Crawfords. Beneath each flag is a panel that tells more of the story, and each championship win is marked by a recreation of the original pin or patch that was designed to commemorate that event.