The Grant Street Transportation Center project combines many design elements in a solution that maximizes the site and takes advantage of the highly visible location at the confluence of three main avenues in downtown Pittsburgh. The site is unique due to its boundaries of three primary streets in the Central Business District as well as an elevated railroad bridge which bisects the property. This results in functionally two distinct garages but visually one facility and accommodates parking for 1,000 cars in total.
The visual prominence of the site, the location adjacent to the city’s cultural district; its proximity to the nearby Convention Center, and its placement as a gateway to the popular shopping area known as the Strip District required the design solution of the Transportation Center to incorporate a high aesthetic and address these issues as a building and not as a parking structure. Attractive stainless steel perforated metal panels on all sides form the building’s skin, hiding the sloping floor lines of the parking ramps and masking the functional features of the garage.
The building site is the terminus of Grant Street which created great opportunities for featured design elements. One element is the all glass elevator tower that extends 141 feet tall (165 to top of spire), with glass backed elevators that provides the garage patrons with a wonderful view down Grant Street. It also provides an anchor to this major thoroughfare while expressing movement through the illuminated cabs which are seen from a good distance down Grant Street.
The second unique design element is a six story conical “sail” made of translucent polycarbonate panels on standoffs. The Sail is white during the day, and is backlit by color-changing LED lights at night. The sail can be left as a beacon of glowing white light, or, through the use of one of the many preprogrammed multi colored automated “light shows,” create whimsy and excitement in a previously sterile urban corridor.
The main facades on Penn Avenue and 12th Street have a different design motif from the Liberty Avenue and 11th Street facades, but are consistent with the material and detailing vocabulary. Since this portion of the structure is a flat plate garage, there was no need to cover the face of the building entirely. Responding to the rhythms and patterns of the facades across the streets, this elevation of the seven story garage incorporates that syncopation to break down the scale of the garage to a pedestrian-friendly level consistent with the surrounding fabric.
This façade therefore incorporates the same stainless steel panels of 11th Street and Liberty Avenue but in a much smaller scale and staggered “patchwork” pattern to replicate the windows and geometry of the storefronts across the street. There is also the use of Grey orsogril panels to provide a rail and guard for the garage, but open up the façade. A common material used to tie the facades together is the brick, storefront, and aluminum panels that wrap the ground level and the brick column enclosures.
In addition to the complex split garage design, there is a 24,647 square foot Greyhound Bus Station with 14 bus slips under the elevated garage floor plates. The Transportation Center design also accommodates retail space at one corner of the building reinforcing the existing pedestrian street patterns, and parking garage offices at first floor.
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