What Did You Say?

Public Input on Design Pittsburgh Submissions

By Maya Henry Posted on December 5, 2017

Interior of McKee Elementary School, The Hayes Design Group – Architects.  Photo by Matthew O’Haren Photography, LLC.

As part of the People’s Choice Award voting this year (over 3,415 online votes), we asked each person to tell us why they voted for their selection.  We received over 1,400 comments and we read every single one!  Here we have a selection of the projects that received the most comments from the general public, the people who use and see the buildings every day.

Zerega Residence Addition and Renovations

Client: Megan and Todd Zerega
Architecture Firm: qkArchitecture
Contractor: Jimmy Johns Construction, LLC
Photographer: Luke Mawhinney
Landscape Architect: Gwen Wisniewski Landscape and Garden Design, LLC

Everything was perfect, except for the house. Our clients sought our services as the housing stock in their most desired neighborhood was turning up limited options in their search for a forever home. Checking off their boxes of must-haves, we worked with the homeowners to transform a single-story ranch into a two-story home that maintained the traditional aesthetic of the neighborhood, nearly doubled the livable square footage and featured the wife’s most important request— a porch swing to overlook her front yard.

What did you say?

  • Amazing transformation while staying in touch with landscaping features. Seems like it belongs and has been part of the neighborhood for quite some time.
  • What a beautiful transformation of this home. It shows that you can take an already pretty home and truly customize it to become your dream home! Job well done!
  • What a transformation!  I live in a community that many older homes, while charming and great location, need some help to modernize and make the best use of space for modern living.

Joseph Hernandez Hall

Client: University of Florida
Architecture Firm: Stantec Architecture, Inc.
Contractor: Skanska USA Building, Inc.
Engineers: George F. Young, Inc.; TLC Engineering for Architecture
Photographer: Tom Holdsworth Photography

Challenged to accommodate over 100,000 square feet of laboratory and support space for undergraduate teaching labs and graduate research on a tight urban site (all while working within the design constraints of a campus historic district), the Stantec design team and client re-examined the fundamental organization and methods used for teaching chemistry at the undergraduate level. This resulted in significant departures from traditional approaches to teaching lab organization. The design allows the university to accommodate expanded teaching capacity in an open, collaborative, and flexible environment that incorporates the newest teaching practices and technologies and anticipates the ability to adapt to new technologies as they evolve.

What did you say?

  • Beautiful building! I watched as it was being constructed, wondering what the final outcome would be.  Compared to the old chem buildings, this one looks bright and spacious.
  • Because this building is awesome!  Architectural design is awesome in a way that labs are modern but the building seems historical. And that C60 with the electron inside is awesome!

WHICHEVER. Pittsburgh’s First Gender Neutral Public Restroom

Allison Huchko

Project Scope: To design a structure that will provide more equitable living conditions within the city of Pittsburgh and will have an overall footprint no greater than 20’-25’x100’
Program: 1 Gender Neutral Public Restroom, 2 Lactation Rooms, 1 Janitor Closet, 2 Exterior Sitting Areas
Materials: Pre-cast concrete, Keystone Tiles, Glass, Steel, Wood, Green Roof
Key Design Components: Full-length stalls with locking doors, ADA accessible stalls and accessories, Green water management system, economical building materials

With the Point being at the epicenter of Pride as well as many other major events in the city, it is surprising to notice that the existing restroom facility is exclusive to the LGBTQ community.

Amongst the many great challenges, this community faces, feeling comfortable using the restroom should not be one of them. A restroom should not be the field of battle over gender and sexuality. In fact, studies show that single-sex restrooms actually promote greater strifes of inequality and increase mental disorders and suicide rates in members of the LGBTQ community.

In order to make Pittsburgh a more equitable city, “Whichever.” proposes the implementation of a new uni-sex restroom facility, that will provide everyone, regardless of gender identity, race, or age, a comfortable and safe environment to use the restroom. The proposed facility can also work as a prototype for similar facilities at other major locations throughout the city of Pittsburgh. Since 1973, the city of Pittsburgh has been celebrating the LGBTQ community by hosting a Pride Parade.

The first Pride Parade to be held in the city of Pittsburgh took place on June 17th, 1973, only four years after the Stonewall Riots in New York City. The very first parades gathered less than 200 participants and followed different routes every year. In fact, from 1980 to 1991, no marches occurred at all. It wasn‘t until the early 90’s that Pride marches began to pick up again, this time leaving their mark on the iconic Liberty Ave. and Point State Park where the annual parade has taken place ever since.

What did you say?

  • I picked this project because it is logical, necessary, and doable.  It will solve a real problem and just makes sense!

  • Safety and inclusion are imperative in our society today!  Thank you so much for thinking about our community and how to make everyone feel safe!

McKee Elementary School

Client: West Allegheny School District
Architecture Firm: Hayes Design Group Architects
Contractor: Thomas & Williamson, LLC
Engineers: Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.; Taylor Structural Engineers, CJL Engineering
Photographer: Matthew O’Haren Photography

The redesign of McKee Elementary School transformed a dark, uninspired building into a light-filled, colorful, naturally bright environment conducive to learning. The replacement of outdated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, along with lighting upgrades and access to natural light for every instructional space, resulted in a healthier indoor environment for children, teachers, and staff. The highlight of the project came through seeing improved student performance on standardized tests, increased employee satisfaction, and reduced absences in the first year after the phased construction began.

What did you say?

  • The school is so amazing! Colorful, welcoming, and a TOTAL change from what it had been.

  • As someone who attended McKee Elementary, I remember it as a dark, outdated space and this was in the late 90’s. The updated school looks amazing and you can’t say enough about the benefit of natural light in a classroom.

  • Absolutely LOVE the color in this project and I can see great improvement in the children’s performance.

Sorrells Library, Carnegie Mellon University

Client: Carnegie Mellon University
Architecture Firm: GBBN Architects
Contractor: Mosites Construction
Engineers: Allen & Shariff
Photographer: Massery Photography, Inc.

What did you say?

  • As someone who works at the Libraries, I’ve witnessed the increase in student satisfaction and use since the renovation. The open floorplan and informal zones work extremely well.

  • Because of the radical transformation from what it was before. I would never have thought that ugly, concrete blocky space could be transformed into something so comfortable and usable with the flow.

The Bently

Client: Burns & Scalo Real Estate, Inc.
Architecture Firm: DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design
Contractor: Burns & Scalo Real Estate Services
Engineers: Taylor Structural Engineers, Inc.; Allen & Shariff; The Gateway Engineers, Inc.
Photographer: Denmarsh Photography

Burns and Scalo retained our team to design an office building that would be emblematic of current trends in workplace design. The project would have unique architectural features, adhere to sustainable practices, and promote the owner’s brand.

What did you say?

  • It is a local project that added great interest to a previously desolate stretch of the Parkway West.
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