Author Archives: Shanea Phillips

Opinion from the Building’s Structural Engineer

Leslie E. Robertson, the structural engineer who designed the U. S. Steel Building (as well as dozens of other landmark buildings around the world) contacted us several months ago (unsolicited) to find out more about our proposal for High Point Pittsburgh.

Having examined the proposed architectural design and the building’s construction documents, Mr. Robertson has deemed the entire project entirely doable, both physically and financially. You can read his letter of endorsement here.


Virtually There: The Viewseum at High Point Pittsburgh

In the spring 2012, a project team from the Entertainment Technology Center assisted by students from the School of Architecture transformed the building design ideas into The Viewseum at High Point Pittsburgh – Virtually There, a fully interactive, Web accessible virtual destination. Construction updates were posted weekly at the VT Online project Web site. The Beta version of Virtually There has been completed and is open to visit at

Virtually There is truly a “destination in the sky” with lots to do and much to see.

Along with accessing the virtual simulation’s dozen interactive kiosks and exploring its media gallery and video theaters, site visitors can check out the Top of the Triangle restaurant, the Pie in the Sky Café, and the High Bar. There are performances on Stage HP in the central atrium and numerous panoramic viewpoints, including glass floors corners. Visitors can ride elevators or climb stairs to the rooftop promenade and enjoy a virtual fireworks extravaganza. There’s even a helicopter perspective overview!

If you lack the time or electronics or are uncomfortable downloading the Unity Game Player, watch this 90-second video overview of the project. While nothing like actually being There, it does show what There is like.

Envisioning High Point Pittsburgh

In the fall of 2011, 6 School of Architecture and 3 Civil and Environmental Engineering upper class students participated in Envisioning High Point Pittsburgh a studio project to evolve a realistic design concept for the facility based on previous Investigation projects. As the image to the left shows, they succeeded with flying colors.

SoArch Johnson, Kim, Neumann, Pun, Rapaport, Scarola, Ko. CEE: Blisset, Egan, Zhang. Instructor: Bear.

Feasibility Study

In the fall of 2010, 12 Heinz College graduate students undertook a comprehensive, semester-long systems synthesis project. They produced a feasibility study, both determining practical requirements and possibilities of the idea and establishing parameters and pathways for its realization.

Sketch Design/Case Competition

In January 2010, more than 300 students and faculty from the School of Architecture took part in a sketch design/case competition. Over five days, 32 teams conceptualized how this presently empty acre might be transformed into an environment that could showcase sustainability and green technologies, as well as provide benefit to society and the region. The five top designs went on to a second competition. Teams of Masters-level students from Heinz College’s Institute for Social Innovation were assigned to create a business case for one of the five selected designs based on a triple bottom line: to be green, financially sustainable, and provide a benefit to society. Details on the Design Sketch/Case Competition can be found here.

The Evolution of an Idea

From its conception, High Point Pittsburgh has been seen as a “built environment” and a publicly accessible, four-season venue that will attract a steady stream of visitors from both near and far, making it a source of civic pride as well as a downtown “first day” attraction that is unique in all the world.

In addition, green design and construction techniques will minimize its energy requirements. Innovative systems designed into the structure will harness the wind and sun to generate electricity for itself and the building. Other design elements and sustainable plantings will mitigate rainwater run-off. Equally important, by generating revenues to fund its construction and on-going operations, High Point Pittsburgh will be a financially self-sustaining entity, as well as the epitome of energy and environmental awareness.

Considerable research, analysis, and creative conceptualization have taken place during the Investigation, largely centered at Carnegie Mellon University.