The Frick Environmental Center (FEC), the first municipally owned, free and public Living Building Challenge targeted facility, will be unveiled to the public for the first time in a public celebration on Saturday, September 10. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), the building will be a world-class center for environmental education.
A joint venture between the City of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the FEC will act as a gateway to the 644-acre Frick Park. Designed and engineered to achieve Living Building Challenge and LEED Platinum standards, the building will provide experiential learning to a projected 20,000 K-12 students and hundreds of thousands of people who visit each year.
“The Frick Environmental Center is a world-class green building for a world-class city, and we’re excited for the public to have their first glimpse of this incredible resource for our region,” said Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy founder and CEO Meg Cheever. “The September 10 celebration will give a sampling of the beautiful building and grounds, environmental education programming, and community spirit that the Center will have to offer our city for generations to come.”
The Conservancy now has a home base for its growing environmental education programs, which are offered to students in Pittsburgh’s public schools. Fully equipped classrooms, offices, and support spaces provide the much-needed amenities for the Conservancy’s award-winning programs, while a public ‘living room’ and gallery space welcome park visitors to stop in to learn more about the park’s history and extensive trails, and the sustainability of the building.
The design and construction team, led by BCJ and regional construction powerhouse PJ Dick, collaborated with the City and Parks Conservancy throughout the design process, which included extensive community outreach. More than 1,000 community stakeholders provided feedback, helping to define programmatic elements such as the Slavery to Freedom Garden and rain veil art installation. Many of the site’s original features have been restored as well, including historic gatehouses, an alleé, and fountain.
To meet Living Building Challenge and LEED Platinum standards, the FEC will use 35% less energy than baseline structures. The building will achieve net zero energy and water utilizing elements such as ground-source heat pumps, radiant floors, a photovoltaic array, and a reclaimed water system that will provide captured and filtered storm water for irrigation, use in the fountain, and building non-potable use.
To minimize the project’s carbon footprint, all building materials came from within a 1,200-mile radius of the site, and subcontractors and tradespeople were hired in the Allegheny County-Western Pennsylvania region. In choosing the design team, the Conservancy selected BCJ for their design capabilities, as well as their 40-year presence in Pittsburgh; and PJ Dick for their longstanding and highly regarded work in the region.
The FEC will be free and open to the public during park hours. Beginning Spring 2017, the building will also be available for event rental. Living Building Challenge certification is targeted for Spring 2022.