Frick Environmental Center to Receive Leadership Award at GBA’s 2017 Emerald Evening

As the hillsides celebrate spring, Green Building Alliance is thrilled to honor the Frick Environmental Center with our new Leadership Award at the 2017 Emerald Evening gala.

The Frick Environmental Center is the world’s first free-to-the-public building engineered to meet the Living Building Challenge, and achieve LEED Platinum standards for energy efficiency. This municipal treasure transforms sustainable innovations into an interactive classroom, providing a canvas for audiences to reimagine their connections with the environment. Please join us on September 21, 2017, at the August Wilson Center to learn how the Frick Environmental Center is changing the landscape of sustainability–and to celebrate this major achievement in our region’s green building movement.

Though GBA’s Emerald Evening gala and awards are several months away, we can’t help but give a sneak peek into this project’s story. After the previous education center burned down in 2002, The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy undertook more than a decade of planning to create an organic connection from neighborhood to nature. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and built by PJ Dick, the new Frick Environmental Center presents its green technologies as public exhibits, provoking public questions about conservation and human impact.  Visitors can explore the 18, 525-foot-deep geothermal wells which maintain the Center’s temperature, while the site’s wastewater treatment system stands as statues along the entrance path.  Those choosing to drive will observe photo-voltaic cells covering the parking shelters, which also channel storm water into a 5,000-gallon underground cistern.

The technical wonders abound, but the Frick Environmental Center also takes its mission to an unexpectedly artful end.  The entrance opens on a gorgeous tree-lined allée, and boasts a new high-efficiency fountain in a nod to the site’s original Innocenti and Webel 1935 Masterplan. Further downstream, excess water cascades down a 30 foot rain veil, bubbling into a watershed sculpture cut into the terrace.  As if challenged to disappear into the hillside, the building’s support beams echo the trees irregular spacing, and the locust exteriors will weather to a dove grey. The design team also incorporated local resources into their designs. The Frick Environmental Center is constructed with regionally sourced, nontoxic materials where possible, including its steel beams, wood furniture (sourced from the site itself), and glazed windows. To further incorporate local communities into the site, more than 1,000 residents participated in the planning process, producing a public amphitheater and the From Slavery to Freedom Garden, among other features.

To learn more about the Frick Environmental Center and the people and projects transforming our region, save the date for GBA’s Emerald Evening on September 21, 2017. An evening of inspiration awaits!

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