Pittsburgh Then and Now: The National Aviary

The National Aviary’s first room received a $1.2 million renovation last summer.

photo courtesy carnegie library of pittsburgh archive


The National Aviary's Tropical Reainforest was built in 1952 and after more than 50 years, it was ready for a makeover. Following a $1.2 million renovation, it reopened to visitors on July 13, 2018.

The revamped room features 3,146 new panes of laminated glass; each pane of original glass was removed by hand, recycled and replaced with unique bird-friendly glass — all locally sourced from Vitro Architectural Glass (formerly PPG Glass). Acid Etching on the glass prevents collisions by birds both inside and outside the habitat, and the translucent finish maximizes ultraviolet transmittance to help sustain wildlife and plant life throughout the year. 

photo by jim cunningham


The renovations also include a 15-foot tiered waterfall with specially designed spaces for birds to bathe and play, new tropical plants including cacao and coffee for conservation education, energy-efficient enhancements and more.

The Tropical Rainforest renovation was funded by Colcom Foundation and the Allegheny Regional Asset District and was sponsored by Allegheny Health Network, Peoples, Trib Total Media and Vitro Architectural Glass.

Pittsburgh Then & Now is a yearlong series in celebration of Pittsburgh Magazine's 50th anniversary where we explore the changes that have happened across the region from 1969 until present-day. Read more Then & Now stories here.

Categories: Then/Now