Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

What’s Old is New (and Green) Again

A former Pittsburgh public works building has been transformed into one of the greenest buildings in the world.


After the opening of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, an education, research and administration facility, it was hard to imagine that Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens could get any greener.

Enter the Exhibit Staging Center.


As a former city public works building, the structure was never one you would call “green.” With block wall masonry, a flat roof and no windows, the industrial facility was a typical design of the 1960s. But instead of demolishing the building, Phipps adapted and transformed it into the Exhibit Staging Center (ESC), a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose sustainable building. 

“The greenest building is one that’s already here,” says Richard Piacentini, Phipps President and CEO. “So we thought if we could actually take this building and convert it into a super-green building, that would make a lot more sense than tearing it down and start[ing] from scratch.”


As part of its green designation, the ESC will have features such as a large number of windows to maximize natural light, a vegetative living wall, geothermal wells for heating and cooling, solar panels on the roof and wetlands that will store, recycle and treat rainwater for use in the building.

“If you look at Pittsburgh, we have a lot of old buildings all around. If we can convince people and show people that you don’t have to tear them down to do something green . . . I think that makes a real powerful statement,” Piacentini says.


Upon the ESC’s completion and certification, Phipps will be the home of the greenest buildings in the world (the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Nature Lab and the ESC) showcasing new, existing and modular construction types. 

The primary occupants of the ESC will be maintenance and grounds crew; the building is designed to ensure that the health and well being of all staff members is a top priority, and it will also include a meditation room, yoga studio and fitness room.


“We care about all our staff, and I think traditionally maintenance staff gets some of the worst buildings,” Piacentini says. “We think they should deserve as good a building as everyone else.”

The ESC will also be open to visitors for a behind-the-scenes look at Phipps’ past and future flower shows, including a glimpse at the construction of display props and a chance to see inside the Phipps Vault, where historic topiaries and props from past shows will be on display. Piacentini says that this is one of his favorite parts of the building.

“Our flower shows are incredibly popular to people, and people always wonder, ‘how do they do it?’ and here’s a chance to come in and see some of it in action,” he says.

Learn more and plan your visit at phipps.conservatory.org.

Sponsored content is created and paid for by the marketer.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

After Dark Hall of Fame: Primanti Bros.

The beloved bar-and-restaurant chain has become a Pittsburgh emblem. It's the 10th inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Do You Want to Pay More Taxes to Improve Parks?

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy hopes to restore the city’s parks to their former glory, but they may need a tax increase to do so.

The Latest Restaurant and Bar Openings in Pittsburgh

We say hello to a new concept from Justin Severino, a summer-long dance pop-up and a new spot for cocktails.

PM on KD: Sean Collier Guest Hosts for the Day

PM associate editor Sean Collier appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live as a guest host to fill in for Heather Abraham. He shared some details about our latest special edition: City Guide.

Book a Band for a Different Kind of Wedding Sound

For many couples, family and tradition means everything. Having a band that helps reflect those can be a great way to pay tribute to your heritage, while getting your guests on the dance floor.

Recommended Pittsburgh Eating: 4 Recent Dishes I Loved

PM Dining Critic Hal B. Klein says corned beef inside an import business, Sichuan smashed eggplants, smoked chicken wings and a cornbread dessert have his attention.

How to Celebrate the Moon Landing Anniversary in Pittsburgh

To celebrate Apollo 11’s golden anniversary, several local events are set to take place, from film screenings to new exhibits and more.

5 Pittsburgh Vintage Homes Stores You'll Want to Explore

PM Editoral Intern Ellie Pesetsky shares some of her favorite up-cycled furniture and home decor stores in and around Pittsburgh.

Eleven Couples to be Married after Love at First Bite

Wedding bells will be chiming for multiple couples this weekend … and it’s taking place at Primanti Bros. in the Strip District.

Pop Culture Pop Up Bars Are Here to Stay

Nintendo-themed Level Up is in Market Square for another week, but if you miss it, you can catch the Pokémon-themed bar coming this fall.

How Scary is the New Steel Curtain Coaster at Kennywood?

The ride claims records for the world’s tallest looping coaster and tallest inversion; it also has more inversions than any coaster in North America. We rode it this morning. Here's what we have to say.

The 400-Word Review: Point Blank

Netflix's action thriller is forgettable, but serves well as a quick throwback.

Pittsburgh Marks the First Stop of the New Whiskey Rebellion Trail

Think the story of American whiskey begins in Kentucky? Think again.

Pirates’ Possibilities Include Contention in Surprising Season’s Second Half

It hasn’t gone according to the original script, but the Pirates have found a way to stay relevant — and may yet be capable of finishing what they started.

The 400-Word Review: Stuber

There are laughs in the new buddy comedy, but they're dragged down by bad decisions.