Design for new U.S. Steel headquarters honors Pittsburgh’s industrial past

4 March 2015

The new U.S. Steel headquarters is designed to pay homage to the steelmaker while serving as a catalyst for development of the former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District.

Those goals are contained in a final land development plan filed with the city Friday by developer Clayco Realty Group in anticipation of starting construction of the five-story, 285,000-square-foot building by early fall.

Review and approval of the plan by the city planning commission are among the final hurdles to be cleared before work can start on the 28-acre publicly owned tract bordering the Hill District and Downtown.

Chris McKee, Clayco Realty Group president, said the project is on a fast track toward construction because U.S. Steel’s lease at U.S. Steel Tower on Grant Street expires in October 2017.

“They’re in a hurry for us to get the approvals done and the permits in place so we can take the ground down and start construction sometime this summer or early fall,” he said.

Planning commission members tentatively are scheduled to be briefed on the project March 10, followed by a hearing and vote March 24.

Clayco is shooting to have the building substantially completed by Aug. 1, 2017, to give the corporation time to make the move several blocks from its current headquarters.

It did not provide a cost for construction, listing it as “confidential.” In the city filing, the developer offered its vision for the project.

“The intent of the building design is to express the heritage while focusing on the future direction of U.S. Steel while functioning as a catalyst for future development,” it stated.

As the first major project on the arena site, the building has the potential to act as a magnet for other development, Mr. McKee said. “It puts the site on the map for future development as other prospects are looking for new homes,” he said.

The building will occupy 2.23 acres of land just across from Consol Energy Center.

From the air, the new headquarters looks a bit like a hockey stick — a coincidence, Mr. McKee insisted, even though the Penguins hockey team holds the development rights to the land.

“We didn’t do that on purpose. It was just the way the building design set up to the streets and the roads,” he said.

Home to 800 to 1,000 employees, the headquarters will feature large, open floor plates to maximize efficiency. There will be 18,000 square feet of retail at street level. Part of the first floor will be devoted to a museum honoring the region’s steel history.

The building itself will be made largely of steel and glass with wood and brick accents. The steel and glass are a nod to Pittsburgh’s past as a center for steel and glass manufacturing, Mr. McKee said.

There will be no structured parking within the new headquarters, though there will be spaces and racks for bikes.

Clayco is seeking an LEED silver designation for the development. An underground cistern system will help to capture rain water. It will sit below an outdoor plaza to be built behind the building as an amenity for workers.

From a sustainability standpoint, the goal is to make the headquarters an “example of how a building integrates itself with the site and corresponding developments,” Clayco said.

During a Jan. 26 meeting in the Hill, the plans for the project were generally well-received, although some residents expressed concerns about the lack of parking and asked that local retailers be given a shot at the space to be set aside for such uses.

Mr. McKee said Monday that discussions are continuing with the community. Marimba Milliones, CEO of the Hill Community Development Corp., could not be reached for comment.

Travis Williams, the Penguins’ chief operating officer, said the team is “pleased with the design and plan Clayco has put together” to advance the development.

U.S. Steel will receive 10 years of tax abatements for building on the site. It will contribute half of that, estimated at $3 million, into a fund to be used for improvements in other parts of the Hill. The rest will be used to help subsidize the development.

The goals for the new building are not that much different from those included in a promotional brochure put out when the 64-story U.S. Steel Tower opened 44 years ago. It was to “stand as a monument to the steel industry and become a symbol of Pittsburgh itself.”

“In this structure, we hope we have helped to lay a new foundation for further economic growth and progress of this great city and tri-state area,” the company wrote.


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