IKM Inc

University of Pittsburgh McGowan Institute


Location: Pittsburgh,  PA
Completion: 2002
Project Area: 45,200 ft2
Services: Architecture, Planning, Interior Design, LEED Gold


The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine is a 45,200 square foot, stand alone, two-story laboratory/office building in the Southside Works, a mixed-use, riverside development in the City of Pittsburgh.  The site, which is located about 3 miles from downtown, is a former brownfield that was once occupied by a sprawling steel mill.  The new building is home to scientists, researchers and other staff who are developing artificial organs and blood substitutes. The program includes animal holding, surgery rooms, research labs, two MRI rooms, a shop, graduate student spaces and offices.

Perhaps unique for a LEEDTM project, this project was designed and built in two distinct phases.  The first ‘shell’ phase, as an incubator building, was not registered as a LEEDTM project nor did it have any specific sustainability goals.  It was, however, designed by IKM Architects to high thermal and durability standards.

The second phase involved design and build-out for the University of Pittsburgh, McGowan Institute. The planning and design for the fit-out project was “green” from the beginning with plans to we register the project with LEEDTM and set a Gold rating as the target.

The McGowan Institute project is notable for several reasons:

It demonstrates the successful “greening” of a pre-existing, speculative “shell’ building.

It takes full advantage of Pittsburgh’s location in the (former) industrial heartland by using a large volume of materials manufactured or fabricated within 500 miles.

The project also addresses one of Pittsburgh’s most serious environmental problems, the overflow of combined sewage and storm water by capturing rainwater from the roof, storing the water in a 5,000-gallon underground tank and re-using the water for toilet flushing and drip irrigation.

The project makes creative use of state-of-the-art heat recovery wheels to increase the efficiency of the 100% outside air spaces and achieve more than 30% reduction in energy use relative to ASHRAE standards.

Finally, the McGowan Institute has been integrated with the teaching mission of the University of Pittsburgh. The building is regularly used as a case study of applied sustainable design principles, and it is a popular destination for visiting delegations from around the world.