pittsburgh, pennsylvania

This office interior uncovers the hidden potential of an office floor fit-out for a young Pittsburgh start-up company focusing on advanced product development. Inspired by Pittsburgh's warehouses and industrial facilities in their search for an appropriate work space, the client also realized the conflicting need between the imagery of an industrial setting and a location and presence within Pittsburgh's downtown. After numerous visits to many downtown office buildings during their search, the client finally found a space whose potential presence could go beyond the standard office interior.

This office is located in the historic Firstside area of Pittsburgh's "Golden Triangle" business district on the top floor of the twelve-story House Building (a hundred year old building that was once a hotel) overlooking the Monongahela River. The twelfth floor of the House Building was selected for its abundance of natural light, fine views of the Monongahela River and the historic Smithfield Street Bridge, and a commanding view of Mt. Washington.

The idea of this interior is to create a space of modest materials which complement, enhance and exploit the existing building's spatial and structural characteristics. The existing structural framing, columns, and hollow clay tile are fireproofed in cementitious fireproofing - "the crude" - which meets the highly refined and articulated tactile surfaces - "the crisp."

The program is an open studio layout encouraging collaborative discussion and idea exchange. Providing quick flexibility through its open plan, this interior can be easily modified through the use of reconfigurable workstations, hanging homasote planes, pull-down power cord reels and mobile partitions. These elements allow the interior to change rapidly to meet the potential future growth and diverse processes of its users. Programmatic features include a client waiting area, product display area, workstations, kitchenette, pin-up gallery, modeling workshop, product library, research area, team work area and a conference area.

Every interior element within the space - whether a custom designed workstation, display/storage wall cabinet, "sandbox" reception table, kitchenette, or custom machined door handles - has been designed for both function and flexibility and as well is made of a common material palette used in uncommon ways. The clear expression of the process of assembly is represented in each material of this interior - exposed fasteners are precisely positioned; clips, material joints, electrical conduits, and hangers are carefully composed - and collectively they constitute a vital part of this interior's expression.

This intent of design carries through to the lighting and ventilation systems. The interior takes advantage of natural ventilation through the use of operable windows as well as maximizes daylighting through the open floor plan. To complement the natural daylighting, a ceiling network of avalon canvas sails act as light baffles for continuous uplighting.