Allegheny County Jail Adaptive Reuse

The impact of the Allegheny County Family Court System is one of the most far-reaching of any governmental agencies in the region. Serving both adults and juvenile justice issues, the environment in which these important decisions are rendered is of extreme importance to the welfare of our families and the health of our community. Now, these two sections of the Court have to come together into a modern court facility for the Family Division of the Court of Common Pleas that retains the National Landmark H.H. Richardson Allegheny County Jail.

To save the deteriorating landmark building, IKM presented a design incorporating a method of inserting a new floor structure in place of the five-story-tall freestanding cellblocks, thus introducing the space to house County Court functions. Through an innovative design/build/lease-sublease arrangement, Allegheny County was able to arrest the decline of this landmark and consolidate 400 Family Court employees and operations from two separate, crowded buildings. The downtown, centrally-located new Court of Common Pleas is based on the most modern models for court facilities.

The goal of this project was to preserve this great historic landmark immersed within Downtown Pittsburgh, converting the dark, austere, noisy place of incarceration into a bright, open space appropriate for Family Courts. IKM’s designs for the Jail Reuse Project are based on appropriate degrees of preservation, restoration, and adaptation.

Throughout both the exterior and interior, design remains faithful to architect H. H. Richardson’s creation. The result is an award-winning project in which the exterior and major interior structures have been stabilized, preserved, or restored to maintain or replace the building’s important image; the courts have been provided with a physical plant meeting their needs for increased security and improved functionality in a restrained and ‘stress-reduced’ atmosphere.

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