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One PPG Place

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Subject: BNY Mellon Center (Pittsburgh), Gateway Center (PAT station)
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One PPG Place

One PPG Place
General information
Type Commercial offices
Location 600 PPG Place
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

40°26′23″N 80°00′12″W / 40.4398°N 80.0032°W / 40.4398; -80.0032Coordinates: 40°26′23″N 80°00′12″W / 40.4398°N 80.0032°W / 40.4398; -80.0032

Construction started January 28, 1981
Completed April 11, 1984
Cost US$200 million
($488.8 million today)
Owner Highwoods Properties
Management Highwoods Properties
Antenna spire 193.55 m (635.0 ft)
Roof 166 m (545 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 40
Floor area 2,000,000 sq ft (190,000 m2)[1]
Lifts/elevators 23
Design and construction
Architect Philip Johnson
John Burgee
Developer Johnson/Burgee Architects
Structural engineer Leslie E. Robertson & Associates, R.L.L.P.
Main contractor Mellon Stuart Construction and Blount Brothers Construction, Joint Venture
Other information
Parking 700

PPG Place is a complex in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, consisting of six buildings within three city blocks and five and a half acres. Named for its anchor tenant, PPG Industries, who initiated the project for its headquarters, the buildings are all of matching glass design consisting of 19,750 pieces of glass. The complex centers around One PPG Place, a 40-story office building. Groundbreaking ceremonies occurred on January 28, 1981. The complex buildings opened between 1983 and 1984, and a dedication ceremony took place on April 11, 1984. Total cost of construction was $200 million ($488.8 million today). The buildings were sold by The Hillman Company to Highwoods Properties in 2011.


The project was started by PPG Industries (formerly Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company) to serve as the company's headquarters, after being based in Downtown Pittsburgh since 1895.[5] The company contracted the project to architect Philip Johnson and his partner John Burgee. Designed in the neogothic style but with modern innovations, the complex had many inspirations, including London's Victoria Tower,[6] and H.H. Richardson's Allegheny County Courthouse and Charles Klauder's Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh.[7] Before the building was constructed, an 8-foot-tall, 600 pound model was pieced together in Tarentum, PA by Renato "Reno" Chieruzzi in the basement of his home. Glass for the model was cut at the Ford City PPG. [8]

During demolition and preparation of the site, a team of [2]

The buildings are recognized by their 231 glass spires, with the largest one 82 feet (25 m) tall. Also notable are the surfaces of reflective insulating glass, that served to advertise the project's founder. The buildings contain over one million square feet of PPG's Solarban 550 Twindow - 19,750 pieces. The primary building, One PPG Place, is a 40-story tower, with PPG Industries occupying half of the space. The complex also contains a 14-story building, and four 6-story structures. PPG Industries also uses space in one of the other buildings. The lobby of One PPG is a 50-foot (15 m)-high entrance that features red glass. The building has 21 elevators, each with walls constructed of clear glass panels enclosing fractured glass. In total, the complex cost $200 million.[5]

The design of the building not only made it distinct, but created high energy-efficiency. Heat in the summer is reflected away from the building by the glass, while in winter infrared heat is reflected and contained within the building. The surface walls feature a barrier construction that effectively separates the interior walls from the exterior. The building also collects heat from computer equipment and recycles it throughout the structure.[5]

Construction of the building highlighted Pittsburgh's "Renaissance II period", which saw the Pittsburgh economy falter as a result of steel mill closures, while Pittsburgh Plate Glass remained a Fortune 500 company.[9]

Office space opened in August 1983, the retail shops opened in November 1984, and the complex was dedicated on April 11, 1984.[10]


Upon completion of the project, architectural critics and the media called PPG Place "the crown jewel in Pittsburgh's skyline," "the towering success of downtown Pittsburgh," and "one of the most ambitious, sensitive and public spirited urban developments since Rockefeller Center."[5] In 2006, readers of the Pittsburgh City Paper voted PPG Place as the best building in Pittsburgh.[9]

In 2005, when the vacancy rate of downtown offices was around 20%, PPG Place was between 87 and 89% full. The management company was able to attract out-of-town corporations to relocate operations to Pittsburgh. News America Marketing, a subsidiary of News Corporation, occupies 5,800 square feet (540 m2). Local Kennametal Inc. rented office space, and LandAmerica Financial Group relocated several area office locations to the 12th floor of One PPG Place. Carnegie Mellon University operates alumni relations from the complex.[11]


The complex sits on six city blocks (5½ acres) bound by Forbes Avenue and the Boulevard of the Allies on its north and south sides, and Stanwix Street and Wood Street to its east and west.

PPG Place opened an ice skating rink on December 10, 2001 that has become a popular seasonal attraction in downtown. A 60-foot (18 m) Christmas tree is in the center of the rink. At 9,600 square feet (890 m2), the surface is over 2,000 square feet (190 m2) larger than the famous rink in New York's Rockefeller Center.[12][13]

During the rest of the year, the area with the ice rink is a plaza with tables open to the public.[14] The plaza features a fountain with 140 water jets and uses 280 underground lights. Opened in 2003, it was designed by WET and SWA Group landscape architecture and urban design.[15] At the center of the fountain is a pink granite obelisk.

In popular culture

  • The building serves as Doctor Claw's company headquarters (and hideout) in the 1999 film Inspector Gadget
  • A composite image of the main tower of PPG Place and Oxford Centre is used as the Fiddler's Green luxury high-rise in the movie Land of the Dead.
  • Several buildings in PPG Place are featured prominently in the Spike TV series The Kill Point, set in Pittsburgh.
  • In 1997's Steven Seagal film Fire Down Below, the exterior of the skyscraper is shown before the headquarters scenes of the corporate congolmerate.
  • Skateboarder Bam Margera refers to PPG Place as a "castle building" while visiting Pittsburgh during filming of his series Bam's Unholy Union.
  • In the Fallout 3 DLC "The Pitt", a disfigured version of the main tower of PPG Place can be seen on the horizon with flames spewing from a few of the spires.
  • Some of the interior scenes of Unstoppable were filmed in PPG Place.

See also


Further reading

  • Franklin Toker, Buildings of Pittsburgh, Society of Architectural Historians, Chicago, Center for American Places, Santa Fe, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, 2007. ISBN 0-8139-2650-5

External links

Pittsburgh portal

Preceded by
Fifth Avenue Place
Pittsburgh Skyscrapers by Height
635 feet (194 m)
40 floors
Succeeded by
BNY Mellon Center
Preceded by
Oxford Centre
Pittsburgh Skyscrapers by Year of Completion
Succeeded by
EQT Plaza

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