Alcoa Corporate Center

Alcoa Corporate Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S. houses corporate resources shared by Alcoa business units worldwide.

The building is a six-story aluminum and glass structure situated along the north shore of the Allegheny River, extending from the 7th Street Bridge to the 9th Street Bridge. Its waveform glass facade opens the entire building to a riverfront park, the river itself, a panoramic view of the city, and the natural light of the southern sky. Windows are over 11 feet high at each level, and all offices are within 45 feet of a window.

Inside is an open office environment designed to encourage communication, spontaneous contact, and teaming. There are no closed offices. Workstations are the same for everyone, from administrative assistants to executives, and meeting places are everywhere - kitchens and informal conference areas as well as fully equipped rooms for larger meetings and video conferencing. Primary access to all floors is by escalator, rising along the back wall of a six story atrium, looking out over the river, the city, and the activity in offices and meeting rooms on all six levels.

Opened in August of 1998, Alcoa Corporate Center includes 800,000 pounds of Alcoa aluminum and 70,000 square feet of exterior glass. Lead architect was the Design Alliance in Pittsburgh. Turner Construction Co. managed the building project. The former Alcoa Building, a 45-year-old highrise in downtown Pittsburgh, was given by Alcoa to the public to serve as a regional center for industrial development.

A thoughtful approach to the environment - inside and out

Among the basic values guiding Alcoa's operations is this one, on the interrelated issues of Environment, Health and Safety:

"We will work safely in a manner that promotes the health and well-being of the individual and the environment."

For the new Alcoa Corporate Center, that meant an open, people-centered work environment within a building that fits naturally and beneficially into the larger environment of its neighborhood, city, and world.

In designing the building, Alcoa and its architects, The Design Alliance, took extraordinary care to respect and reflect its neighborhood and its riverside setting:

  • They set out to create a non-monumental building.

  • Its waveform front wall of reflecting glass echoes the river.

  • For sandstone to clad the building's base or "podium" beneath the office levels, Alcoa's builders reopened the century-old quarry that once supplied stone for piers of the two nearby bridges.

  • This same beige and white sandstone also lines the terraces of the park in front of the building - a handicapped-accessible area that faces the river and includes part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

  • On the land side, the old cobblestones of Isabella Street were preserved as a reminder of the neighborhood's past - and as a means of slowing traffic for safety's sake.

  • The Isabella Street Cafe, a public restaurant, was included in the design to welcome the neighbors and to give Alcoa employees and their guests a varied choice of eating places and menus.

The design principles adopted in planning the building call for a safe, open, environmentally and ergonomically appropriate workplace. For example:

  • Although sunlight pours into the interior, the floor-to-ceiling glass wall is treated to screen out ultraviolet rays and to insulate for noise as well as temperature. Traffic sounds, even from the bridge access streets just a few feet away, can't be detected inside.

  • Exterior aluminum sun shades reduce interior glare, but sun baffles "harvest" daylight by reflecting it onto the ceiling and into the middle of the open floor.

  • An energy-efficient heating and cooling system draws air from an 18-inch space under each floor, providing abundant fresh air in the mix with filtered, recycled air.

  • By designing with reusable workstation furniture, Alcoa will consume fewer resources over time - less paint, drywall, carpet, wood - as changes occur in the building.

  • Artificial lighting in the building is a combination of task lights and indirect lighting. This puts light where it is needed rather than wasting energy on general illumination.

Even small touches make an environmental difference - one coffee pot per floor rather than many, shared resources like training materials and periodicals, a Paperwise program, recycling containers on every floor.

And from the beginning of the project, Alcoa endeavored to work with major systems suppliers who have active recycling and earth-friendly policies.
Corporate Center Facts

Click image to enlarge.

Rick Baird photo.