Gensler completed mixed-use tower in Pittsburgh
Long recognised as the steel capital of the US, Pittsburgh hasn’t marked a significant high-rise building in more than 20 years. Until now.
Designed by Gensler, recently opened Fairmont Pittsburgh, a luxury hotel at Three PNC Plaza, a 750,000-square-foot, 23-storey mixed-use development also includes offices for PNC and law firm Reed Smith, residential condominiums, ground-floor retail and below-grade parking. Located at the intersection of the commercial and cultural corridors of Fifth and Liberty streets and in close proximity to PNC Park baseball stadium, Three PNC Plaza aims to revitalize the city’s urban core.
Seeking LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the project was planned to achieve optimal economic, environmental, and community benefits.
“We were fortunate to have the key ingredients for a successful project - both PNC and the Fairmont are industry leaders in terms of incorporating sustainability into their business models, and the city of Pittsburgh has long been recognized for its strategic reinvention,” said Doug Gensler, project director. “The end result is a model mixed use urban development that fosters the city’s smart, sustainable growth.”
Gensler designed visually distinguished disparate elements including hotel, condominiums, office and retail, via distinct façade materials, all of which are stitched into a balanced, single form. So the crystal-clear glazing for the condominiums creates a “jewel box” effect, distinguishing them from offices and hotel, whose low-E glazing offers enhanced energy efficiency, and is identified by a green tint.
At the ground level, lobbies for the office, hotel, and residential portions of the project are interconnected and open to the street.
Instead of heading for a suburban office park, PNC opted to build in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh to enhance the city’s dense urban center, a sustainable move that allows the project to tie into existing infrastructure and minimize sprawl. The sustainable elements of the project include: high-performance glazing systems, natural light, and high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems that enable the building to exceed national energy efficiency standards by 10 percent to 15 percent; reduced landfill waste due to salvaged or recycled construction waste; zero or low emitting materials in all interior spaces to improve air quality for occupants; dedicated outdoor air units that supply 100 percent outside air to guest rooms; and water saving tactics that will save an estimated 930,000 gallons per year in the hotel alone.
In designing the Fairmont Hotel’s interiors, Gensler was inspired by the theme “Art and Industry” with the goal of creating a locally authentic experience. Local steel and glass are featured throughout the hotel’s design, as well as in works by local artists including a dramatic ballroom chandelier and glass pendant fixtures in the lobby and bar. Artifacts from the 1800s discovered during building excavation were incorporated into the hotel’s design and are displayed in key locations throughout the hotel.
The hotel lobby features a dramatic high ceiling, a sculptural front desk that echoes the building façade, and an asymmetric grand staircase leading to hotel restaurant. The restaurant’s wooden slat walls and a raw wood communal table reflect hotel’s sustainability goals and inspired the restaurant’s name, Habitat.
Pittsburgh’s rivers and bridges inspired the guest room color schemes.