Emily Pilloton

FIRST GREEN CONVENTION CENTER in Pittsburgh

by , 01/23/07

Pittsburgh Convention Center 1, green building, LEED, Pittsburgh, Convention Center, Green center

In a city that’s seen a remarkable urban resurgence in the past decade, Pittsburgh’s David Lawrence Convention Center stands along the Allegheny River as a beacon of both beautiful architecture and innovative green design. Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, the waterfront building is certified with a Gold LEED rating, and is both the largest “green” building and first “green” convention center. Aside from its eye-catching aesthetic, Viñoly’s design boasts an impressive list of green architectural elements and high-tech systems, from large glass curtain walls that admit consistent daylight (over 75% of the center’s exhibition spaces are naturally lit) to a state-of-the-art water reclamation system that reduces potable water usage by almost sixty percent. And the list goes on…


Pittsburgh Convention Center 2, green building, LEED, Pittsburgh, Convention Center, Green center

Green in its form and architecture, the design of the center takes full advantage of its context, using the natural airflow from the river to ventilate the entire complex. This architectural solution, combined with other energy-saving tactics, results in annual energy savings of over 35 percent. In terms of materials, the structure integrates a slew of green components including low- and no-VOC paints and non-toxic carpeting. The center has also put into effect an extensive recycling program that both recognizes and mitigates the wasteful and ephemeral nature of the exhibitions and trade shows it houses. The convention center serves as a new model of a hyper-functional, aesthetically-stunning green building, proving that large-scale, utilititarian buildings need not sacrifice function or aesthetic to be environmentally responsible.

+ David Lawrence Convention Center
+ Rafael Viñoly Architects

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14 Comments

  1. primasari j.a.p February 5, 2008 at 10:31 am

    can u give me the plan of this conv.centre?
    thx

  2. Nichoas July 12, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Good job Team Vinoly. Gold LEED. Wow. You guys could’ve racked up so many more points! I really love that picture of the interior filled with gas guzzling cars. Ha! Great promotion of sustainability suckers. Anyway, “points” is the real game here, right?

    Listen up. LEED is a step towards better common sense, not sustainability. Its a huge croc if one begins to evaluate the “points” wholistically. What happens when one begins to count? They simply reduce everything to a number. Sure its a way to get inertia behind green practices, but not the only way.
    LEED should not be the definition of “highest and best use” in terms of sustainability or development. EVOLVE!

  3. Todd HIlscher March 20, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Lets be honest here … if they would have put in a riparian zone it would have been used by the homeless, or not used at all , including by wildlife. And for the fact that its located in downtown, Rob was right, theres many other factors that play in to the buildings location. I think they did a fantastic job and definately a step in the right direction. Look at the building, its clear that the architect thought it through. There are other aspects involved in architecture besides riparian zones, such as its urban context, function, aesthetics, and on and on…. Vinoly did a great job in his approach and ability to get a gold LEED certification on the project.

  4. Deasine February 5, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Haha… the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion is better! But very nice use of fabric in this building

  5. Ben Schiendelman February 4, 2007 at 3:27 am

    Rob, whether or not there’s flooding, there are changes that can be made at the edge of the water (especially if there is a seawall). It doesn’t look like that was within the parcel of the project, so I don’t see a problem with the building. For examples, look at the salmon habitat planned for the seawall upgrades in front of Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park – it’ll be the only place along the waterfront with that kind of work done, but it will offer a safer haven for a number of types of wildlife. Flooding doesn’t mean that you can’t significantly increase the health of the water immediately adjacent to the city, just through offering habitat and ensuring that there’s not a dropoff at the water’s edge. The big issue is ensuring that shallow-water species have a habitat, and that fish have a haven from deep-water predators.

  6. Rob February 1, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    For the Richard Smith character who doesn’t seem to understand the way this building is situated with the river. This picture (if the comments are allowed to have a link) shows the roadway leading under the convention center after Hurricane Ivan related floods. This was an extreme situation but flooding occurs several times a year. This area of road is known as the 10th Street bypass and it is notorious for being closed due to flooding.

    The point here is that there is no place to put Mr. Smith’s “riparian zone”.

  7. Ben Nielsen January 26, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    I used to eat lunch here! well…i don’t think we were supposed to, but the space shown in the first photo is a great place to sit in the sun and eat.

    its a lovely building but i think its having problems already logistics-wise, no downtown hotels with the capacity to allow for large conferences, and the hotels won’t open until there are large conferences to provide capacity? something along those lines.

  8. lindaloo January 26, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    It’s great that a green convention center has been built. I complained on my website about the Colorado Convention Center, where Greenbuild was held this year. The rooms were cavernous, over-air-conditioned, no-natural-light nightmares. The best views from the convention center (of the stunning Front Range mountains) were from the parking garage. I certainly hope the cars enjoyed the great views, while the people were relegated to the VOC-stinking confines of a traditional convention center. Maybe Greenbuild will be held at the Pittsburgh Convention Center.

  9. James Krapp January 26, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    It’s about as green as you can get in a pre-developed urban setting. The site doesn’t include the space between river and building…it’s an implied connection to the water.
    It was set on a brownfield site and there isn’t a native wildlife post what has already been pushed out decades ago during the rise of the steel industry…. this place was so polluted at one point i’m shocked human could survive here post WWII. Pittsburgh has made great strides in upgrading their infrastrcuture in a environmentally conscious way.

    This building has been completed for awhile…why the posting now? Did it just receive it’s LEED rating?

  10. richard smith January 26, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    You people are so negative and anti-green its sick. No one is talking protected wildlife zone. There is no riverside roadway. Its just that the riparian zone is so abundant with possibilities for the exchange of nutrients from both the terrestrial and aquatic communities, that we should pay deference to this are rather that pave it and declare it dead.

  11. Frank January 25, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    It’s true. A protected wildlife zone right next to the riverside roadway would have been a fantastic idea. I am already imagining the crushed duckage.

  12. Richard Smith January 25, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Right, There are no birds flying over, or worms or insects or anything in the river, and we are gonna keep it that way!

  13. Josh January 25, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Wildlife? It’s in the middle of downtown!

  14. richard smith January 24, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    This may be a green building, but it is not green placemet. There should be a riparian zone between the river and the building, for wildlife. too bad they couldn’t think it through.

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