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An old Ford factory in Pittsburgh is being adapted to become a biomedical research facility

Adaptive Reuse

An old Ford factory in Pittsburgh is being adapted to become a biomedical research facility

This is the latest step in the city’s post-industrial resurgence.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | June 2, 2021
The Assembly is an adaptive reuse of a Ford factory and showroom

The Assembly will have 108,000 sf of leasable space. Images: Courtesy of Wexford Science & Technology

A former Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Pittsburgh, which was built in 1915 as a factory and showroom for Model Ts, is being transformed into a research, innovation, and entrepreneurship hub called The Assembly.

A team led by Wexford Science & Technology and the University of Pittsburgh is adding 105,000 sf to the plant’s original 250,000 sf. The enlarged building will house labs and office spaces, an in-building parking garage with a secured bike room and showers; gathering, event, and conference spaces; a 250-seat auditorium, and a restaurant and café.

Gathering spaces have access to the building's three floors.

The Assembly will provide ample space for gatherings and events. The stairwell access to each floor is one of Wexford's design signatures.


The Assembly, which is scheduled to open early next year, will be the future home to the university’s researchers who are focused on discoveries related to cancer biology and other areas. The final beam for this project was secured on May 25, an event that was applauded by over 300 construction workers on site.

Also see: Pittsburgh’s Neighborhood 91 for additive manufacturing


Model Ts being assembled in the Ford plant

Ford Motor Company made Model Ts in this plant for more that 30 years.


Wexford’s website states that this adaptive reuse and renovation will create a 345,000-sf, three-story facility with 36,000-sf floor plates with 14-ft 6-inch floor-to-floor heights, and 108,000 sf of rentable space. The Assembly is located in Pittsburgh’s Baum-Centre corridor, a mass-transit oriented urban district designed to serve businesses.

Also see: Pittsburgh combats construction fraud

“These state-of-the-art labs, dramatic convening spaces, and top-tier researchers will attract the talent, ideas, and companies that will continue to propel life science innovation in Pittsburgh,” says John Grady, Wexford’s Northeast Region Executive and Senior VP of Development.

ZGF Architects designed the renovation. Turner Construction, Ventas Inc., and Bank of America are Wexford’s other partners on this project, which rivals in scale the Mill 19 redevelopment at Hazelwood Green.

“The Assembly is a cornerstone of the Pittsburgh Innovation District,” says Sean Luther, Executive Director of InnovatePGH, a public-private partnership that supports innovation growth in Pittsburgh. “Fully leveraging Pittsburgh’s life science assets requires exactly the intentionally designed, multi-tenant facilities developed by Wexford. The Assembly represents the full vision and potential of the Pittsburgh Innovation District to translate academic research into economic development that benefits all of Western Pennsylvania.”

This $330 million redevelopment project broke ground in the summer of 2019. The year before, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Ford made and sold cars out of this eight-story plant for more than 30 years.

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