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Old 08-08-2010, 10:42 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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I believe Strada is an archtectural firm that has help design many buildings on the North Shore. In fact, they seem to be pretty connected for a ot of the major projects in Pittsburgh. They seem to do a good job in the renovation of old buildings

Strada - Portfolio

Last edited by nuwaver88; 08-08-2010 at 11:02 PM..
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Old 08-09-2010, 10:28 PM
 
Location: S.W.PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perryview22 View Post
Has anyone else noticed how so many of the newer buildings on the Northshore are cookie-cutter in design. Of course, no two buildings are exactly alike but they all seem to have similar charactersics and have building materials with those unaesthetic matte finishes and that awful salmon and beige colored stone work.

Is there anyone in the construction or architecture fields who can speak to this subject? Are there just a couple of major construction or architectural firms designing and building thse structures? What is going on?
Its not all the same architects. These are all developer buildings (meaning speculative numbers driven projects) and represent pretty clearly what is considered "low risk" design: brick, semi-classical composition (base, middle, crown), "punched" windows (as opposed to full glass walls or ribbon windows or something inventive). The first 2 were developed by Continental (Del Monte and the other next to it whose name escapes me) and they set the precedent. The 3rd building, not including the stadia, was the brick garage that sits next to Rt. 279. Although it is brick, it is probably the most detailed and expensive skin over there. Come to think of it, all the garages on the North Shore are pretty adventurous. Alcoa is a breath of fresh air, but it is not by a developer.
For everyone that laments the sameness, there is probably someone who appreciates the consistency. There are many examples of great cities, or districts of cities, where consistency is the primary impression . In these places, the exterior urban spaces are what become special. That and the occasional monument. Rome, Venice, Vienna, etc. come to mind, but obviously a much different attitude about buildings exists in such places. Among the problems here is that this is done without a commitment to the public realm. At the same time the buildings are designed as cheaply as possible, hence the flat (thin) facades, which appear almost painted on.
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Old 08-09-2010, 11:31 PM
 
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So having looked at it today, the building along Isabella next to the Warhol, with the sorta courtyard in the middle facing the river, isn't that bad either.

Edit: Oh, and another thought I had--I think even the cheapo stuff will look better once the area between the stadiums is more filled in. It doesn't help those buildings to be alternating with parking.

Last edited by BrianTH; 08-09-2010 at 11:50 PM..
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:24 AM
 
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Here's the Master Plan, updated in 2009:

http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/cp/...an_Booklet.pdf

It has some interesting elements--I particularly like the winding "alley" concept. Generally, I again wouldn't necessarily suggest the individual buildings are going to get better, but the overall effect could be considerably more pleasing once it is built up.
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Old 08-10-2010, 08:06 AM
 
Location: S.W.PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
So having looked at it today, the building along Isabella next to the Warhol, with the sorta courtyard in the middle facing the river, isn't that bad either.

Edit: Oh, and another thought I had--I think even the cheapo stuff will look better once the area between the stadiums is more filled in. It doesn't help those buildings to be alternating with parking.
Yes- very nice building designed by Rob Pfaffman. It was built for Alcoa, and they specifically wanted to limit the glass for reasons of interior comfort. I guess the glass flagship project has had a bit of a heat overload problem. The central glass court area of this annex building is basically made of clear ribbon windows with spandrel glass (opaque glass) below and above. The visual effect is that it is an all glass front. I can imagine the dance Rob had to do to sell the Owner's on all that exterior decorative steel, which has no function except to effect the scale of the exterior.

I need to correct something I wrote above. The really cheap looking buildings are the new hotels. While they are developer buildings and built on very tight budgets, they are not speculative buildings in the sense that they were built without a known tenant. Hotels are normally purpose built, turnkey projects. Because there is not much variety in mid-market hotel plans, and because people tend to choose hotels based on price and service, the architecture really becomes cheap and bland. These are typical examples- you have the same thing on the south side and in the strip.

Last edited by stevo6; 08-10-2010 at 08:17 AM..
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:53 AM
 
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That's funny--I looked at all that south-facing glass on the main building with nothing really to shade it and wondered how they could keep it cool. I guess they wonder too!
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:57 PM
 
Location: East End of Pittsburgh
747 posts, read 612,654 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevo6 View Post
Yes- very nice building designed by Rob Pfaffman. It was built for Alcoa, and they specifically wanted to limit the glass for reasons of interior comfort. I guess the glass flagship project has had a bit of a heat overload problem. The central glass court area of this annex building is basically made of clear ribbon windows with spandrel glass (opaque glass) below and above. The visual effect is that it is an all glass front. I can imagine the dance Rob had to do to sell the Owner's on all that exterior decorative steel, which has no function except to effect the scale of the exterior.

I need to correct something I wrote above. The really cheap looking buildings are the new hotels. While they are developer buildings and built on very tight budgets, they are not speculative buildings in the sense that they were built without a known tenant. Hotels are normally purpose built, turnkey projects. Because there is not much variety in mid-market hotel plans, and because people tend to choose hotels based on price and service, the architecture really becomes cheap and bland. These are typical examples- you have the same thing on the south side and in the strip.
If we are refering to the Alcoa Corporate Headquarters on Isabella St, it was designed to be open and naturally lit. The glass was developed by PPG and this was the first building designed with this type of glass. The glass has a coating that allows all light in but filters the heat.

The metal work on the outside is not decorative. The metal work is a perfect example of form vs function. The metal visors tilt and sway to direct light as needed.

In the 90's, the lowrise was suppose to be considered the 'new' international style............
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:07 PM
 
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I believe we are actually talking about two Alcoa projects. One is the Alcoa Corporate Center at 201 Isabella, the landmark building right along the river which is really a very nice design. The other appears to be at something like 30 Isabella--it is next to The Warhol and not right on the river, with a kind of glass court in the middle. Apparently that was something like an annex project for Alcoa.

Edit: Ah, Google tells me it is the Alcoa Business Services Center I am talking about (at 30 Isabella):

http://www.engr.psu.edu/ae/thesis/po...PDFs/tech1.pdf

http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburg...16/focus1.html
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:11 PM
 
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Unfortunately, I think a lot of the design of buildings on the North Shore matches the types of tenants. ALCOA is a giant, pioneering company and their headquarters reflects that. However, these 'cookie cutter' buildings are being inhabited by business traveler chain hotels (not the Ritz Carlton), low-key offices, and chain restaurant/bars (McFadden's). There is nothing bold about these places, it is almost as if they are designed to be the same everywhere. Perhaps if that area had more high-profile or unique tenants, things would be different.

The amphitheater isn't going to help things aesthetically over there either, especially when taking into account the precious, flat land fully served by utilities with proximity to downtown that the venue will inhabit.
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:17 PM
 
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I can't say I am thrilled about the design of the entertainment venue either, nor the overall density of the North Shore plan. That said, having a decent, flexible, mid-sized concert venue next to a T stop and within quick walking distance of Downtown is pretty cool.

I guess I am advocating reserving judgment on the rest. I don't think it is going to be brilliant, but I do think that if they fill in the plots like they have planned, it could be a cool little district overall despite the individual mediocrity of the buildings.
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