Pitt, UPMC moving ahead with major construction work


While the master plan for Pitt’s Oakland campus has a 30-year timeline, there already are plenty of ongoing projects — both by the University and other organizations — that will be very visible.

Salk Hall

On Sept. 27, the Board of Trustees Properties and Facilities Committee approved a $69 million renovation of the historic Salk Hall. The fourth through 11th floors, which house the School of Pharmacy, will be renovated. The project, which will begin this month, will include full replacement of the building’s mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire suppression systems; exterior renovations including the replacement of all roofs, masonry repairs, partial window replacement and lightning protection; and improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including new restrooms, elevators and modifications to existing stairs.

Salk Hall, built in 1941 and renamed for famed polio researcher Jonas Salk after Pitt purchased the building in 1957, is designated as an historic landmark by the city and the state. The renovation project will preserve the historic designation, according to a University news release.

UPMC Heart and Transplant Hospital

On Sept. 26, UPMC unveiled designs for three new hospitals, including an 18-story Heart and Transplant Hospital along Fifth Avenue in front of UPMC Presbyterian, designed by HGA, based in Minneapolis. The 90,000-square-foot, 620-room, mostly glass structure would tower over the nearby Graduate School of Public Health. Construction is scheduled to begin in late summer 2019, with completion set for 2023, according to a UPMC news release. The other new hospitals, which also are scheduled to be started in 2019, are planned in Shadyside at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and in Uptown, near UPMC Mercy.

Forbes Avenue buildings

The old Allegheny Health Department building at 3441 Forbes Ave. — which Pitt purchased in late July for $1.9 million, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times — is scheduled to be demolished starting in late October. Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management, said crews must first do an asbestos abatement. The plan is to save as many as 12 pieces of the ornate facade. In August, Preservation Pittsburgh had raised concerns about the destruction of the building, which was built by the Croatian Fraternal Union in 1928. Bernotas said the building is beyond saving at this point. Demotion began in early September on the adjacent building, which Pitt bought for $1 million in 2016, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. Bernotas said there are no specific plans for the space right now.

Cathedral ‘restacking’

About 60 percent of the Cathedral of Learning “restacking” project is completed, Bernotas said. The 10th and 11th floors, with an internal stairway linking the philosophy departments, were completed this summer, while work continues this fall on the 21st and 22nd floors. On each floor, central air conditioning is being added and steam heat is being converted to more energy-efficient hot water heating. Bernotas said crews also are exposing windows that were covered by drop ceilings and, in general, providing a more open layout and using moveable walls. Each floor is unique, because the departments have a say in personalizing the space.

Crosswalk work

Another visible project will be the installation of a new crosswalk and light on Forbes Avenue between the entrance to Schenley Quad and David Lawrence Hall. Facilities Management is not in charge of the project — the city of Pittsburgh controls the streets in Oakland — but Bernotas said he expects to see light poles going up in November or December.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 412-648-4294.