When New York architect Rafael Vinoly saw the "Three Sisters," a triad of suspension bridges straddling the Allegheny River, he was inspired to imitate the heavenward slant of steel cables in his design for the newest addition to Pittsburgh's riverfront. The new David L. Lawrence Convention Center is striking for its suspended, sail-like roof, and for Vinoly's vision for the inviting, beautiful and highly functional building.
Chosen by a panel of jurors with experience in hospitality, planning, architecture and economic development, the design is truly the result of civic unity. The city's arts community is involved to bring sculptures, paintings and other public art installations to the center.
Vinoly sees the Convention Center as a welcoming place where visitors can't help but feel comfortable and embraced. This project will triple Pittsburgh's capacity for meetings, conventions and exhibitions.
Located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, the stunning new $354 million Convention Center is outstanding in form and function. Aesthetically pleasing, spacious and environmentally smart, the building design is also highly functional.
The facility will offer an on-site hotel, 330,000 square feet of exhibit space (250,000 square feet of which is column-free), 53 meeting rooms and exhibitor access provided by thirty-seven loading docks - trucks can even roll onto the exhibition hall. Given this spaciousness and accessibility, multiple conventions and tradeshows will be able to move in, operate and move out on an overlapping schedule.
How fitting that the David L. Lawrence Convention Center should be the first "green" or environmentally smart convention center in the United States. In the 1950s, Pittsburgh Mayor David L. Lawrence was responsible for the city's first renaissance, which marked the beginning of the end of Pittsburgh's reputation as a sooty industrial city.
Light, air and water star in the facilities environmentally smart design. "Let there be light" is the first commandment in this environmentally responsible design. The generous use of skylights and windows, which produce diffused light and even temperatures in the building, bring daylight and ample views of the Allegheny River into much of the exhibit and meeting room space.
Integrated with the neighboring Cultural District and the central business district, everything a delegate could want or need lies within easy walking distance or a short subway ride of six major hotels and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Structural Precast Concrete
The David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, made extensive use of precast concrete structural components - precast/prestressed double tees, beams, columns and box girders.
Most precast structural beams and double tees are pretensioned using high tensile prestressing steel strands stretched between abutments inside a steel form shaped for the desired structural cross section. When high early strength concrete is placed in the form and sets it bonds directly to the tensioned steel. The pretensioning strands are released when the concrete reaches a predetermined strength, prestressing the beams (putting the concrete in compression and creating a built-in resistance to tensile stresses produced by loads).
Pretensioned concrete members are manufactured by CPCI members in plants under controlled conditions resulting in high quality finished prefabricated structural members ready for delivery to the jobsite. Construction delays due to weather are avoided and reliable building schedules can be maintained.
Prestressed concrete makes possible thinner sections, lower depth-to-span ratios, controlled deflections and a great reduction in weight. The requirement for a live load capacity of 350 lbs. per square foot in the exhibit hall was easily handled by the precast/prestressed concrete double tee, column and beam system.
Architect: Rafael Vinoly Architects P.C.
Structural Consultants: Dewhurst MacFarlane and Partners
General Contractor: Turner - P.J. Dick - ATS
Precast Concrete: Prestressed Systems Incorpoated/Hollowcore Inc.