Through a cooperative partnership between the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the Environmental Center replaces the previous facility, which burned down in 2002. The Center will include indoor learning spaces, a public gathering and reception area, public restrooms and offices, as well as an outdoor amphitheater.
Being constructed into the existing hillside, two of the three stories are below grade on the north side of the building, with a portion of all three levels exposed on the south side. Concrete basement walls, shear walls, and floor diaphragms are used to resist the large lateral earth pressures. Shallow concrete foundations support the structure at its lowest level.
Steel moment frames vertically and laterally support the sloping roof, which cantilevers out to cover an exterior balcony on the south side of the building. The steel frame allows for large areas of windows in the walls above grade, providing views of the surrounding forest.
Curved concrete framed bridges, with steel “trellis” framing above, provide access to the main level on the east and west sides of the building.