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Design Upgrades & Fun-Filled Summer Schedule Planned for at the Giant Eagle Foundation Backyard at 8th & Penn

The Cultural District’s outdoor gathering space is among four regional attractions enhanced by the Better Block Foundation, supported by the RK Mellon Foundation. 

The Giant Eagle Foundation Backyard at 8th & Penn, a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust located steps away from the Benedum Center, is about to receive a summertime makeover. The Texas-based Better Block Foundation will deliver a “Better Block in a Box” to the Cultural District, packed with funky furniture, playful lighting, and engaging games. The Backyard’s reset includes:

  • Lively pickleball courts.
  • Dynamic seating options under string lights.
  • A new mural and performance space. 
  • A rotating roster of live entertainment and delicious food vendors.

The pop-up paradise opens the same night as the Trust’s July 26 Gallery Crawl, ensuring a lively kick-off to a summer-long activation that will remain open through September 15.

“We are thrilled to welcome downtown residents and Cultural District visitors for another fun-filled summer season in the Giant Eagle Foundation Backyard,” said James Hill, Director of Government Affairs and District Initiatives for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “We thank the RK Mellon Foundation for their generous support of the Better Block Foundation’s creativity and commitment to this project.”

“We’re excited to be working in Pittsburgh with so many wonderful neighbors, and especially elated to be kicking off our engagement downtown with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust,” says Better Block Executive Director Krista Nightengale. “The possibilities of the site are endless, and we can’t wait to paint, build, and activate with Pittsburgh.”

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will partner with local organizations throughout the summer to keep the fun flowing. Highlights include:

  • Pickleball on Tuesdays & Thursdays—PUMP’s Pittsburgh Sports League (PSL) will serve up the fun as they welcome players onto two new pickleball courts.
  • Fashion-filled Wednesdays—the Pittsburgh Downtown Neighbors Alliance (DNA) welcomes guests as they shop a night market with fashion boutiques and enjoy local live music.
  • Additional Activities—check  TrustArts.org/Backyard for schedule updates, including more upcoming additions!

The summer-long activation aims to experiment with ideas, gather feedback, and integrate community input to help shape a more vibrant and inviting space long-term in the Giant Eagle Foundation Backyard and adjacent Penn Avenue and 8th Street parcels. This summer marks the third consecutive year the Cultural Trust has activated the space. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Better Block Foundation, RK Mellon Foundation, and participating partners collectively aim to create a dynamic environment where residents can live, work, and come together as a thriving community.