Architectural Envisioning

During a 14-week project in fall 2011, an inter-disciplinary team of six upper-class students from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture and three students from CMU’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering collaborated on a unique challenge: to design High Point Pittsburgh on the one-acre rooftop of the U. S. Steel Tower, the largest, highest place on top of any building on earth.

Working with assumptions and within parameters developed during previous High Point Pittsburgh projects and based on a comprehensive analysis of the building, the team confronted the physical realities, realistic opportunities, and opportunistic challenges involved with creating a publicly accessible, self-funding, world-class attraction more than 850 feet in the air.

Remaining faithful to the structure and architectural style of the already iconic building, the proposed two-story, glass-enclosed facility covers the entire roof, creating some 60,000 s.f. of interior space on two levels, capped by a glass-walled, rooftop promenade.  Here are detailed descriptions of the defined spaces.

With so much available area, there’s ample space for a range of attractions seldom found in other places of high perspective.

The heart of High Point Pittsburgh is Stage HP in its center, a spacious, two-story atrium that serves as a gathering place and stage venue for concerts, plays, and other live performances.

High Point Pittsburgh’s main floor also features an interactive art and media gallery; the new Top of the Triangle restaurant, the place for Haute Cuisine; the lighter minded Pie-in-the Sky café; the High Bar, the city’s chicest after-hours watering hole, and three “Viewseums,” spacious garden and gathering areas in each corner of the triangular structure, feature glass-floored sections looking down to the streets below.

The second level has two 30-seat theaters presenting local videos and three multi-function rooms ideal for gatherings from business meetings to weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. Interactive electronic kiosks throughout the concourse provide visitors with information and insights about all things Pittsburgh, making High Point Pittsburgh a world-class visitor center and first day downtown attraction.

The crowning glory is the High Point Promenade, a glass-walled, open-sky, rooftop walkway, with its 360-degree panorama of America’s most magnificent urban landscape! This island in the air is a perfect spot to see the sights, enjoy fireworks displays, and explore the celestial canopy.

High Point Pittsburgh is also eco-sensitive and energy efficient, with passively conditioned interior spaces and abundant greenery to minimize its own power needs and even capture waste energy from the building below. Innovative systems incorporated into the structure also harvest the wind and the sunshine to generate electricity, while other systems capture and re-purpose rainfall.

Even getting to High Point Pittsburgh is thrilling via a unique, external elevator system, with four glass-walled compartments that can convey more than 600 visitors up and down every hour.

The team has produced comprehensive and detailed design files covering the entire project, as well as the following selection of presentation materials:

For a 90-second, animated, narrated fly-through of High Point Pittsburgh, make sure your computer’s sound is on and click start below.

Access a slide show presentation of design details.

View detailed area descriptions of the entire facility.

Other images from the course:

The architecture team

Mid-semester presentation document

The Envisioning High Point Pittsburgh project has received funding support in memory of Ann Kalla, CMU ’76, with additional funding from the Open Door Art Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Thanks also to The STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and the Department of Architecture, both in the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University, for their support and assistance. 

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