MuseumLab, one of Pittsburgh’s most creative and innovative youth learning spaces, has earned LEED Gold a year after the project was completed in the recently renovated 1890 Carnegie Library, which is located in the city’s North Side neighborhood. Santa Monica-based Koning Eizenberg Architecture led the design of the energy-efficient adaptive reuse project that now serves as a beacon for sustainability, historic preservation and community investment.

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old gray library building

Part interactive museum and part learning lab, the MuseumLab was developed by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, which received LEED Silver in 2006, to offer a variety of innovative activities for kids aged 10 and above for experimenting with art and technology. The new space hosts three labs: the Studio Lab for art; the Make Lab that comprises woodworking and metalworking equipment as well as CNC routers and laser cutters; and the Tech Lab that teaches children coding, augmented reality and video game design. The MuseumLab also has program and rental spaces, commissioned artworks, unique camps, workshops and after-school activities.

Related: The net-zero Frick Environmental Center is officially one of the world’s greenest buildings

tan sofas and spinning chairs in a museum room with a metal ceiling
arched doorways leading to a bright room with many tables

In renovating the 130-year-old Carnegie Library, the architects sought to preserve and expose as much of the original 1890 archways, columns and mosaic floors as possible while bolstering the building’s energy efficiency. As a result, deteriorated plaster was sensitively rehabilitated with thermal plaster patching rather than demolished altogether. Windows were reinstated to bring greater amounts of natural light to the interiors to highlight the many historic details and new contemporary art brought into the space.

wood tables and red chairs in a room with peeling wallpaper and large columns
white room with arched doorways and playful blue mural on the floor

“The work of innovative building projects like MuseumLab is a fundamental driving force in transforming the way our buildings are built, designed and operated,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of U.S. Green Building Council. “Buildings that achieve LEED certification are lowering carbon emissions, reducing operating costs and conserving resources while prioritizing sustainable practices and human health. Because of MuseumLab, we are increasing the number of green buildings and getting closer to USGBC’s goal to outpace conventional buildings, while being environmentally and socially responsible and improving quality of life for generations to come.”

+ Koning Eizenberg Architecture

Photography by Erik Staudenmaier via Koning Eizenberg Architecture