The Weekly is STREAMING now. Join us at HorizonTV

Elegance personified: New life for a neglected but still imposing retail/office space

The building was in such disrepair that much of the reconstruction budget had to go toward structural, mechanical, and electrical infrastructure improvements.

November 17, 2017 |

Pittsburgh’s Union Trust Building occupies an entire city block, rising to 237 feet. Two Flemish-Gothic “chapels” on the roof house the building’s mechanical components. Photo: © Robert Benson.

The Union Trust Building, commissioned by coal magnate Henry Clay Frick and completed in 1917, originally was a 240-store shopping arcade with 700 offices on its upper floors.

This 11-story Flemish-Gothic–style building has had several owners. The latest, Pittsburgh native Jon Davis, CEO of The Davis Companies, paid $14 million in 2014 with the intention of revitalizing it into an amenities-rich commercial center.

The building was in such disrepair that much of the reconstruction budget had to go toward structural, mechanical, and electrical infrastructure improvements that included opening up deep floor plates and removing valances on windows (added long after the building first opened) to let in more daylight.

The limestone exterior was cleaned. The leaking mansard roof was repaired and restored. A new rooftop cooling system, hidden by a contemporary screen, was installed. Ten passenger elevators and two freight elevators were modernized.

Cross axes that emanate from a central rotunda split Union Trust’s cruciform-shaped design into four quadrants. The interior features a grand atrium topped by a Tiffany glass dome measuring 40 feet in diameter. The project team relit the dome to draw eyes upward. The rotunda, now with comfortable seating, serves as a greeting area for office tenants; it can also be rented for events.

More than 19,000 sf of New Zealand wool carpet was laid throughout the building, with color changes on different floors that coordinate with 30 pieces of art that were commissioned for the building.

Amenities include a new fitness center, a renovated seminar room and breakout area, a marketing center, and a concierge desk in the lobby. Parking for 190 vehicles was added in the basement and sub-basement. The National Park Service allowed for the addition of glass canopies at the exterior entries and exposed ductwork to achieve higher interior ceiling heights.


Project Summary


Gold Award Winner

Building Team: Elkus Manfredi Architects (submitting firm, design/interior architect) The Davis Companies (developer) Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel (executive architect) Wessling Architects (exterior restoration architect) Atlantic Engineering Services (SE) AHA Consulting Engineers (MEP) Van Duesen & Associates (elevator consultant) Heritage Consulting Group (preservation consultant) Powers & Company (historic preservation) Mascaro Construction (GC).

Details: 666,993 sf. Construction cost: Confidential. Construction time: May 2014 to November 2016. Delivery method: Design-bid-build.


See all of the 2017 Reconstruction Award winners here

Overlay Init

Your card will be charged: 0