Some long-awaited Pitt construction projects come to fruition | University time


The pandemic has slowed down some Pitt construction projects, but some long-awaited renovations and new buildings are starting to take shape.

Last week, Pitt and Wexford Science & Technology unveiled The Assembly, a biomedical research center in a building in Bloomfield that once served as a one-stop shop for Ford Model T cars, which were assembled and displayed in the same building.

The project was first announced in 2018 as a partnership between Pitt and UPMC. Pitt bought the building from UPMC for $25 million in 2018. Construction began in 2019, but was halted in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Work was allowed to continue a month later with a special waiver from the state.

The eight-story building at 5051 Center Ave. was originally slated to open in fall 2021 after a $330 million renovation.

The Assembly will be anchored by leading scientists in cancer and immunology research, including several Pitt researchers from UPMC’s Hillman Cancer Center, Department of Immunology, and Institute for Precision Medicine .

“We are thrilled to see this new facility come to life as a space for bold and innovative biomedical research, education and training. This represents another important step in the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC’s commitment to advancing new treatments and cures while contributing significantly to the expansion of the region’s biotech sector,” said Anantha. Shekhar, Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, at the May 5 dedication ceremony.

The building has an auditorium with over 250 seats on the ground floor, as well as a large atrium. Pitt leases approximately 245,000 square feet from The Assembly, leaving approximately 110,000 square feet available for rental by other tenants.

Added Alan Magee Scaife Room

Added Scaife RoomScaife Hall’s new 110,000 square foot west wing is set to open in July, said David DeJong, senior vice chancellor for business and operations.

“It’s going to be transformative for the student experience there,” DeJong said.

The $129 million project, which also includes 47,000 square feet of renovations, began in 2019 and was slightly delayed to early 2020, but DeJong said it is now “on schedule and within budget. budget”.

The new west wing features a refurbished Falk Health Sciences Library with an entrance on Lothrop Street; an auditorium for 600 people; a gross anatomy lab that combines the benefits of traditional cadaveric dissection with an augmented/virtual reality facility; multipurpose spaces and open spaces for study, group work or small conversations; a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating; private study spaces and more.

A second phase of construction on Scaife Hall was approved last July by the Property and Facilities Committee of the Board and is expected to begin in July. The $30 million project will include work on approximately 47,400 square feet over four floors on the west side of the existing building to improve teaching and student spaces.

Modern lecture halls, laboratories and group study spaces will be built to support team learning and student interaction. Existing classrooms will be repurposed to serve as a hub for the six health sciences schools.

Arena and Sports Performance Center

The Victory Heights project for Pitt Athletics, which involved multiple buildings, was announced with a bang in January 2020. DeJong said the pandemic has definitely delayed that initiative, but it’s getting back on track now.

The Arena and Sports Performance Center, planned for the bowl next to the Petersen Events Center, is “well on the design road,” he said. “A really exciting design that will fit really well with the hill there, that bowl interface, and in a really consistent way with the Petersen Event Center.”

The plan announced in January 2020 included $250 million in new facilities for many non-revenue-generating sports. DeJong said that “the broad vision of all the things we want to incorporate as part of the Victory Heights project is still on the table.”

chilled water plant

Foundation of an ice water plant next to the Pitt Sports DomeThe new Chilled Water Plant on Upper Campus adjacent to the Pitt Sports Dome is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in December 2023.

“When this thing is done, it will mostly be underground,” DeJong said. “But it’s a critical project because it allows us to be able to expand and facilitate Victory Heights and the (new) recreation center and all that. But it is also linked to the other chilled water plants on campus. So we’re building a system of redundancy and resilience, which is really important.

The Cooling Plant is also an example of Pitt’s efforts to diversify the participation of women- and minority-owned businesses in professional services and construction projects. DeJong said more than 30% of companies hired under this project are owned by women or minorities. Facilities Management has a page on their website detailing all diversity initiatives.

Hillside projects

Working on the hillside above where the LRDC wasThe hillside area of ​​Upper Campus has been undergoing a major transformation for over a year and there is still a lot of work to do. The new Leisure and Wellness Centre, which was showcased at last month’s meetings, is the end goal of much of the work.

The new center and friendlier landscaping “are part of a combination of things that will really activate this hill,” DeJong said.

“When all the dust settles, we really want it to be a destination and not an obstacle,” he said. “The vision that Beth McGrew (Vice-Chancellor for Planning, Design and Real Estate) has offered for this is truly inspiring. It will add to the outdoor green space that our students can use to experience campus.

Enabling work is still underway, including lines that will connect the new chilled water plant to the rest of campus. The campus recreation and wellness center is scheduled to open in fall 2024.

Regional campuses

New Greensburg BuildingMajor projects at the Greensburg and Bradford campuses are advancing rapidly and both are expected to open next fall.

“Each of them is part of a larger effort to get more STEM activities on these campuses, in part to help meet the need for a truly well-prepared workforce in western Pennsylvania – to attract and retain,” DeJong said.

On the Greensburg campus, the shell of the new two-story Life Sciences building, which will connect to Smith Hall, has grown rapidly in the 2021-22 school year. This will allow for significant expansion of the nursing curriculum and other sciences.

In Bradford, concrete was poured last week for the base of the new George B. Duke Engineering and Information Technologies building, which will house two new programs – Mechanical Engineering Technology and Power Engineering Technology, as well as Energy Science and Technology. energy, informatics information systems and technology and information systems.

“Introducing an engineering technology program is huge for this campus and for this region,” DeJong said.

UPMC bed bumper

Although not a Pitt project, the new UPMC Hospital to be built along Fifth Avenue across from the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital is highly prized by DeJong.

“We’re working very closely with them right now to coordinate that,” he said. “We have a lot of activity on the hillside and we have planned to do it, and we have been very careful that it is safe, that our students who walk around the site are supported and that the site is well contained.”

He said there is provision for a single entry point to enter and exit the UPMC construction site.

“We’re working with the Hill District to make sure it doesn’t disrupt them,” he said. “We are working to minimize the impact on campus of all this inbound and outbound traffic that is going to occur.”

Other projects

Hillman Library: Phase three, which includes the first and second floors of the library, is expected to be completed this fall — likely October, DeJong said. These floors will contain an expanded and relocated open lab; a large open study area with moveable furniture; a significantly expanded indoor/outdoor cafe; and an accessible ramp on the Forbes Avenue side of the building. Only the ground floor will remain to be renovated. DeJong said he doesn’t know when work will start there.

According to Scott Bernotas, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management, the notable “smaller spaces” Facilities Management is working on this summer are:

  • Renovate the computer and information school space

  • Waterproofing membrane under the entrance square of the Cathedral of Learning

  • Renovating Thackeray Hall toilets

  • Renovate the fourth floor of Thaw Hall

  • Build an ADA entry ramp to the Hall of Alumni

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Join her at [email protected] or 724-244-4042.

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