2020 Progress Report: Building Community, The River Plaza at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center

Motivation: repair roof leaks, simplify maintenance, and create community meeting area 

Social/Environmental Benefits: improve air quality, provide access to nature, reduce storm water runoff, reduce heat island effect 

Total Area: ~17,000 ft2 

Total Added Green Space: 4,582 ft2 

Architect: Indovina Associate Architects LLC 

Construction Manager: Mascaro Construction Company 

Construction Inspection Services: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. 

Landscape Architect: Eisler Landscapes 

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center has always been a convening force both locally and around the region. When time came to repair the fourth-floor rooftop terrace, the only option for the Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA) was to create a beautiful meeting space for the community. 

Originally an unappealing slab of concrete between the Convention Center’s arched roof, the new River Plaza has spectacular views of the Allegheny River and Downtown. Phase 1 of the redesign focused on the Downtown portion of the Plaza and features a multitude of raised planters, seating options, and removable pavers.

The pavers solve two principal issues – easing roof maintenance and keeping water from pooling on the redesigned meeting area. Removing the pavers provides access to the roofing below, consisting of a waterproof membrane and a two-ply modified bitumen system that provides insulation. 

Raised planters are located around access points to the Plaza, helping to reduce storm water runoff, reduce heat island effect, and improve air quality. The planters have a mixture of ornamental grasses, perennials, and small shrubs that transform throughout the seasons. A section of planters is reserved for food service providers to create on-site vegetable gardens, with a trellis to grow hops, providing a ‘farm-to-table’ experience for guests. Anchors for tents have been strategically placed on the Plaza, offering the opportunity to shade up to 450 visitors. Phase 2 of this project will transform the Allegheny River portion of the terrace. 

[This case study is an excerpt from the Pittsburgh 2030 District 2020 Progress Report, released May 20th, 2021.] 

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