Historic Westinghouse Air Brake Building

pittsburgh, pennsylvania

Located in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District," this adaptive restoration accommodates the offices of Mind Over Media, a media production company.

Although the historic Westinghouse Air Brake Company building had suffered from many modifications during its lifetime, it presented a unique architectural opportunity. We believed that the spaces of this historic building should be sympathetic to its industrial and utilitarian heritage, but still represent the craft and construction methods of our time. Thus, our goal for this adaptive restoration was to restore the exterior appearance of the building and to clarify the spatial sequence within. New elements of the interior are designed and detailed to be viewed not as part of the original building, but as insertions within the interior shell of the building. New walls are made of materials from our time in direct contrast to the original construction palette. Metal studs, plywood, strawboard and polycarbonate sheathing are used to contrast the masonry and heavy timber construction of the interior.

The goal of this interior is to understand how new and old can work as a unifying whole in the reuse of the space. By using materials that contrast the original ones, a clear dialogue is created which allows participants to understand the materials of our past with those of our time and culture.