A Building That Breathes

The recently completed Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory ranks among the greenest buildings on Earth.


Photo by John Colombo

On the edge of Panther Hollow sits a new building. Topped with a tranquil garden and nestled among lush plant life in infinite varieties, this peculiar structure almost seems to breathe — as if it were alive.

The markers of this construction include a pair of state-of-the-art green energy generators — a towering vertical axis wind turbine and a shining array of solar panels, together harnessing the power of the sun and the air. Come to think of it, this beautifully designed place is alive.

The recently completed Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens ranks among the greenest buildings on Earth. The entire structure, which will house Phipps’ education, research and administrative departments, is net-zero energy and water — that is, it generates more energy and water than it uses.

“We see an opportunity to show how we can integrate buildings into the environment in an ecologically and environmentally sensitive way,” says executive director Richard V. Piacentini.
Visitors to the rapidly expanding Phipps campus can check out a rooftop garden and a living “green wall.” Just outside, a new amphitheater space will offer outdoor entertainment.

And even while employing world-class technology, the Center has remained pure Pittsburgh. “We’re really excited about the fact that the smarts to [build] it exist here in this region,” Piacentini says.

Categories: Community Feature