Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, the building is an amalgam of great aesthetics, functionality and sustainable design. Ahead of its time, the building, completed in 2003, seamlessly integrates efficient structure, sustainable technologies and "green" materials into an efficient and dynamic building, setting the new benchmark for convention centers and large exhibition spaces around the world.
The suspension roof of this 1.45 million-square-foot convention center integrates into a single sweeping gesture the contextual, environmental, structural, and programmatic requirements of the project. Its design takes inspiration from the historic suspension bridges that span the Allegheny River adjacent to the riverfront site and provides the latest chapter in Pittsburgh’s long history of engineering and technological innovations. This unique steel cable structure made possible a naturally-lit and column-free, 250,000-square-foot exhibition hall.
With energy conservation at the forefront, the Convention Center was built on the brownfield site of the building it replaced. This reduced the need for a new infrastructure system and made use of the existing public transit accessibility by light-rail, water and bus. Ten percent of the building’s materials are recycled, with over 95% of the demolition waste from the original Center crushed and used as infill, and 50% of the new materials produced within 500 miles of Pittsburgh.
An on-site water reclamation plant recycles waste water from sinks, drinking fountains and faucets. The landscaping is indigenous to southwestern Pennsylvania, eliminating the need for irrigation. An aquifer, located 50 feet beneath the Center, provides make-up water for the building’s cooling towers, which reduces the use of the City’s water supply.
Natural light is in abundance, unusual in a building of this typology, and over 75% of the entire building is naturally lit. The building is designed with a natural ventilation system, the form and profile of the roof encouraging the cool air from the Allegheny to sweep through and ventilate the building.
Photographs by Brad Feinknopf.