Comments TBIN: Highest Helipads
This comes as a footnote to the Tall Buildings in Numbers feature on “Highest Helipads” in the CTBUH Journal 2014 Issue II.
Your readers may be interested to learn that the entire rooftop of the 64-story U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh was originally conceived and constructed as a heliport for the company’s helicopters, which in the mid- 1960s ranked among the world’s largest private fleets.
In fact, according to former CTBUH Chair Les Robertson, the building’s structural engineer, the rooftop facility was built to serve vertical take-off jets!
To provide the necessary stability and strength for the building and its rooftop airport, the structural design included a hat-truss system, as well as a heavily reinforced concrete roof deck. HVAC systems were sited on a lower floor so as to not interfere with flight operations. These features, along with its system of exterior CorTen steel columns, are among the reasons why the building remains unique 44 years after it opened.
While the tide of subsequent events and safety concerns have rendered its heliport unused and unusable as such for over two decades, at 256 meters (841 feet) above street level, it otherwise would rank high on this list.
And covering nearly an acre (0.4 hectares) in area, it’s likely also the world’s largest, highest aviation aerie.
David Bear, Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Carnegie Mellon University/High Point Pittsburgh Project
Editor’s Note: According to our records, the U.S. Steel Tower helipad, even if in use, would not have made the list of “Ten Highest” Helipads, but it would have come close – the lowest of the ten highest is the Bitexco Financial Center, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, at 263 meters. However, that does not diminish U.S. Steel Tower’s significance as a tall steel building or a site of great potential for public space at height!