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University of Pittsburgh reinvents century-old Model-T building as a life sciences research facility

Adaptive Reuse

University of Pittsburgh reinvents century-old Model-T building as a life sciences research facility

After opening earlier this year, The Assembly recently achieved LEED Gold certification, aligning with the school’s and community’s larger sustainability efforts.


By Novid Parsi, Contributing Editor  | December 21, 2022
University of Pittsburgh reinvents century-old Model-T building as a life sciences research facility
The century-old building began as a Model-T assembly line and showroom for the Ford Motor Company in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Photo courtesy University of Pittsburgh

Today, The Assembly is a state-of-the-art life sciences research and innovation facility. But the century-old building began as a Model-T assembly line and showroom for the Ford Motor Company in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh. 

Developed by Wexford Science & Technology, The Assembly opened earlier this year and more recently achieved LEED Gold certification for its design, construction, and operations practices, which focused on improving environmental and human health. The Assembly is the University’s 18th project to earn a LEED certification since 2005, when it received its first LEED Gold certification for the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine

The newest LEED Gold certification aligns with the school’s and the community’s larger sustainability efforts, including the Plan for Pitt, the Pitt Sustainability Plan, and a commitment to third-party certified green buildings. The university intends to reach carbon neutrality both on- and off-campus by 2037.

Designed by ZGF and built by Turner Construction, The Assembly diverted nearly 90% of construction waste from the landfill. Of its renovation materials, 56% were regional and 32% recycled. Close to public transit, The Assembly provides bicycle storage and changing rooms, as well as 30 electric vehicle chargers.

The Assembly is part of a 355,000-sf life science redevelopment complex in the former Ford plant. The research taking place at The Assembly includes cancer biology and immunology, among other areas.

Constructed in 1915, the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant housed Model-T production, showroom, and sales until 1932. As a dealership, it remained in business until 1953, then sat largely vacant. In 2018, the original building was named to the National Register of Historic Places, and the University of Pittsburgh and Wexford acquired the property and announced redevelopment plans.

On the Building Team:
Developer: Wexford Science & Technology
Capital partner: Ventas
Design architect and architect of record: ZGF Architects
MEP engineer: AEI
Structural engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
Construction: Turner Construction

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